A new study published on Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has concluded that more than 42 percent of all Americans will be obese by 2030. Approximately 11 percent of the population is projected to become severely obese, roughly double the current totals.
The study was published in time for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” meeting. Eric Finkelstein, who was the lead researcher on the study and is a health economist for the Duke University Global Health Institute, said on Monday that the projections were very likely to become true “without a major public health intervention,” as quoted by USA Today.
As recently as 2008, a study published online by the journal Obesity concluded that some 86 percent of Americans would be overweight or obese within the same time frame as the Duke study published on Monday. According to Science Daily, the study in Obesity also projected that by 2030, 1 in 6 health care dollars would be spent on treating weight-related health issues.
Others aren’t so sure. As a report by the Associated Press mentioned on Monday, obesity rates in the U.S. have been leveling off in the last decade. This is the case for adults and children both, leading researchers to cut earlier projections that more than half of U.S. adults would be obese by 2030.
The problem, however, is that despite that fact, the trend isn’t exactly reversing itself either, meaning that Americans aren’t getting any thinner. What’s even more troubling is that data suggests that not only are we not getting thinner, but those that are overweight are getting even more so. Hence the projected increase in the number of people who are severely obese, defined as being overweight by 100 pounds or more.
As our weight goes up, so do the health care costs associated with it. Insurance companies say that treating obesity-related health issues now costs Americans more than treating health issues related to smoking. The study released on Monday predicted that obesity-related health care costs would climb an additional $550 billion during the next two decades, as reported by CBS News.
So with all this bad news, what do the experts recommend doing about the issue? While there is an emphasis of course on getting adults to be more active and mindful of what they eat in order to lose the weight, the overwhelming consensus appears to be that focusing on children before they have a chance to develop poor diet and exercise habits is the key to curbing obesity. An MSNBC/NBC report on Monday pointed out that overweight children are likely to carry that extra weight into their teen years and beyond. Approximately 50 percent of those that are currently severely obese were also obese as children, which can make the advice and intervention of pediatricians critical, say experts.