The nation's battle with obesity is projected to last well into the future, new evidence suggests. In a report published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, scientists predict that by the year 2030, the prevalence of severe obesity will increase by 130%. If this prediction holds true, obesity will pose an even greater threat to our nation's health than it does at present.
Researchers led by Eric A. Finkelstein of the Global Health Institute at Duke University in North Carolina, made the prediction after carefully analyzing data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS data, extending from 1990 - 2008, was supplemented by data from the Department of Labor Statistics, Census of Retail Trade and the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association, was used to create mathematical models that enabled scientists to make some very sobering predictions about obesity trends through the next two decades.
Severe Obesity Is Going To Become Worse, Not Better
Finkelstein and his colleagues assert that obesity will have a significant impact on our nation's health care spending. By the year 2030, they predict that 42 % of the US population will be obese. The problem becomes even more serious for people suffering from morbid obesity, a condition wherein a person's BMI exceeds 40 kg/m2.
In this, the deadliest form of obesity, Finkelstein and his colleagues predict an 11% increase in severe obesity prevalence by the year 2030. Morbid obesity places people at significantly higher risk of dying from obesity related diseases including diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
There is a sliver of hope to be found among these dismal predictions. The research team estimates that if the US is able to reduce obesity rates by at least 1% of the predictive models, it would result in 2.6 million fewer people with obesity by 2020, and 2.9 million less people with obesity by 2030. Such a significant drop in national obesity, would translate to a net savings of approximately 85 billion dollars in obesity related health care costs.
The report mentions that obesity prevalence could be offset by a number of different variables which include programs designed to educate the public about obesity, greater access to recreational facilities, and development of new medications.
The challenge, then, is to encourage Americans to accept personal responsibility for their health and to take obesity more seriously, thereby reducing this threat to the nation's future.
Obesity is a Difficult Obstacle to Overcome
Finkelstein and his colleagues noted that the higher cost of healthier foods increase the odds that a person will become obese. This makes sense, and relates to large degree to an issue that I wrote about in February 2011.
People on fixed incomes and those residing in rural areas will have fewer choices and less access to healthy foods. Faced with choices of eating fattening food or starving, most people will choose higher calorie foods even if such foods could be harmful somewhere down the road.
Rapid technological advances also play a role in rising obesity levels. Americans are constantly purchasing or using gadgets that reduce the amount of physical activity that people of previous generations would have done manually. In other words, lack of exercise is making America a fat nation.
Part of the trend in obesity could be reversed by making physical fitness a personal priority. Taiwanese research proves that people who spend at least fifteen minutes per day engaged in physical exercise are able to improve their health.
It should be no different for Americans. People must make time for exercise if for no other reason than the fact that their lives may depend on it.
Finkelstein and his colleagues make some bleak predictions about our nation's future in terms of the obesity epidemic. But their report also suggests a way to reverse the trend; we as a nation simple have to care enough about the problem to doing something about it. Now is as good a time as ever.
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Finkelstein, E.A., Khavjou, O.A., Thompson, H., Trogdon, J.G., Pan, L., Sherry, B., and Dietz, W. (2012). Obesity and Severe Obesity Forecasts Through 2030 American Journal of Preventative Medicine 42 (6)
"Obesity Will Become Even More Prevalent By 2030, Report" copyright © 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.