Americans have just gotten our grade. It’s an F as in Fat. That actually is the title of a new report by the Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans.
The report's name is not totally surprising considering another recent report by the same groups that came out earlier this summer. However, reading this report offers a sobering view of our nation’s future. That’s because the report includes projections run by the National Heart Forum to forecast the adult obesity rates in each state in 2030 and the potential increase in obesity-related disease rates and medical care costs. The report also offers data that highlight how states could prevent these types of diseases and dramatically reduce medical costs if they help their residents reduce their average body mass index by just five percent by 2030.
“This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.”
This report projected the following:
- High levels of obesity in every state. If the current trajectory holds, all 50 states could have obesity rates that exceed 44 percent by 2030. Furthermore, 13 states (Mississippi, Oklahoma, Delaware, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota, West Virginia and Kentucky) could have obesity rates over 60 percent while 26 other states (Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, North Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Indiana, Washington, Maine, Minnesota, Iowa, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Illinois, Georgia, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii and New York) could have obesity rates between 50-60 percent. Colorado is projected to have the lowest rate for any state at 44.8 percent in 2030, which is substantially higher than its 2011 rate of 20.7 percent.
- Increased obesity heightens risk of diseases. The number of new cases of diseases that are tied to obesity may increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020, and then double again by 2030 if states’ obesity rates remain on their current trajectory. This project count amounts to more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer. “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,” the Trust for America’s Health press relates states. “In addition, 795,000 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.”
- Skyrocketing health care costs. Health care costs that are associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are projected to increase to $66 billion per year by 2030. In addition, the nation’s economic productivity is projected to drop between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030. Nine states potentially could see their obesity-related health care costs climb by more than 20 percent by 2030 while 16 states and Washington, D.C. are projected to have increases between 15-20 percent.
The report offers several policy recommendations, including:
- Fully implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act by implementing new school meal standards. Additionally, the nutritional standards for snack foods and beverages in schools need to be updated.
- Increase investments in effective, evidence-based obesity-prevention programs.
- Make physical education and physical activity a priority when reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- Support healthy nutrition in federal food programs.
- Encourage full use of preventive health care services and provide support beyond the doctor’s office.
- Protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund of the Affordable Care Act, which is the nation’s largest single investment in prevention.
This report makes me realize that we’re all in this battle together. We are going to need wise policies, informed leaders and a whole lot of personal initiative if we’re going to win this war by losing the necessary weight.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Trust for America’s Health. (2012). Adult obesity rates could exceed 60 percent in 13 states by 2030, according to new study. Press release.
Trust for America’s Health & the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2012). F is for fat: How obesity threatens American 2012.
Published On: September 19, 2012