If midsections continue to expand and rates follow the current trends, half of the United States population will suffer from obesity within the next two decades, a report released Thursday in the British medical journal the Lancet claims.
“At the rate we’re looking at right now, it’s a dire prediction,” Claire Wang, assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and lead author of the study, explained.
While studies show that roughly one-third of the U.S. population (99 million) is currently obese, that figure will rise to 164 million people by 2030 if nothing is done to address the epidemic that Wang says will also be followed by a host of other problems.
In addition to forking over cash for bigger jeans and skirts, the rise in obesity could lead to 7.8 million more cases of diabetes, 6.8 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and more than half a million extra cancer cases in the U.S. — all of which would balloon health care costs by $66 billion a year, according to the report.
“It’s not only a problem of well-being, it’s a financial burden,” said Wang. “It’s both a public health issue and a health services issue for the states.”
Wang added, “Something has to be done.”
According to the study, part of the “something” includes government coordinated efforts to making healthful foods cheaper and less-healthful foods more expensive largely through tax strategies.
The report went on to show that modest weight reductions at the population level could also have a dramatic positive effect; researchers calculated that just a 1% drop in body mass index (BMI) at the population level would stop as many as 2.4 million cases of diabetes and 1.7 million cases of heart disease and stroke from occurring.
The obesity study, issued in a four-part series published in the Lancet, was released in advance of the first high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly focused on noncommunicable disease prevention and control, slated to take place in New York next month.
via Washington Post