What could the United States population look like in 2030? Fat. You read that right. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 35.7 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are obese.
A new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation takes the results a step further. The “F as in Fat” report, based on a model of population and other trends, projects that unless Americans change their way, half of United States adults will be obese by 2030.
Worse yet, considering that obesity can spur the onset of numerous diseases like type 2 diabetes and endometrial cancer, the likelihood is high that medical costs will be significantly higher in 2030.
The report projects:
• Obesity rates of at least 44 percent in every state and more than 60 percent in 13 states.
• 7.9 million new cases of diabetes per year.
• 6.8 million new cases of chronic heart disease and stroke every year.
• $66 billion more in annual obesity related medical costs.
Given the staggering amount of resources we have in the United States to maintain a healthy weight – including access to fresh produce, educational materials and a seemingly infinite selection of options for physical activity – the grim outlook seems astounding. Taking into account the serious medical issues that can arise in those who are obese, it seems irresponsible to allow our bodies to reach that point.
A future where half of the United States population is obese is also highly unnecessary. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) above 30, while those with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are categorized as overweight. For example, a person who is 5 feet, five inches tall and weighs 185 pounds has a BMI of 30.8. While genetics can play a role in some cases, in general, people have to let their diet and physical activity slide quite a bit to reach the level of obesity.
Furthermore, obesity did not run this rampant in most of our grandparents’ and parents’ days, and they had access to less resources than we do. Perhaps a culture of excess has driven the United States population to where it is now in terms of the obesity epidemic.
Those who fear diets are not doomed to a life of obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight can be as simple as sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity. For those who are already overweight, weight loss boils down to an equation: burn more calories than you consume. Decrease your portion sizes a bit, and again, find ways to get physical activity on a regular basis.