Adult Obesity Rates Predicted to Soar by 2030, New Report Finds

The number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and health care costs, are on course to increase dramatically in every state in the country over the next 20 years, according to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America‘s Future 2012,” a report released earlier this month by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The annual report includes an analysis that forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs. By contrast, the analysis also shows that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce health care costs if they reduced the average body mass index of their residents by just 5 percent by 2030.

If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states including Florida could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent.

If states’ obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030.  

Obesity could contribute to more than 6 million new cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 new cases of cancer in the next two decades.

Currently, more than 25 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, 27 million have chronic heart disease, 68 million have hypertension and 50 million have arthritis.  In addition, 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, and approximately one in three deaths from cancer per year (approximately 190,650) are related to obesity, poor nutrition or physical inactivity.

The analysis also explored a scenario based on states successfully lowering adult obesity rates. It found that, if states could reduce the average body mass index (BMI) of residents by just 5 percent by 2030, every state could help thousands or millions of people avoid obesity-related diseases, while saving billions of dollars in health care costs. For a six-foot-tall person weighing 200 pounds, a 5 percent reduction in BMI would be the equivalent of losing roughly 10 pounds. By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030. Although the medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is difficult to calculate, current estimates range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.

If BMIs were lowered, the number of Americans who could be spared from developing major obesity-related diseases could range from:

  • Type 2 diabetes: 14,389 in Alaska to 796,430 in California;
  • Coronary heart disease and stroke: 11,889 in Alaska to 656,970 in California;
  • Hypertension: 10,826 in Alaska to 698,431 in California;
  • Arthritis: 6,858 in Wyoming to 387,850 in California; and
  • Obesity-related cancer: 809 in Alaska to 52,769 in California.

And nearly every state could save between 6.5 percent and 7.9 percent in health care costs.

The full report with state rankings in all categories is available on RWJF’s website at TFAH and RWJF collaborated on the report, which was supported by a grant from RWJF.

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