Nearly One Third of American Children Obese or Overweight

Sep 19, 2012

According to a new report, America is getting fatter.

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. These statistics come from the new report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012, released today by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to TFAH Executive Director Jeff Levi, obesity is one of the most challenging health crises the country has ever faced.

“Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are currently obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk for serious diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease” said Levi. “And estimates of the medical cost of obesity range from $147 billion to $210 billion annually.”

According to the report, if obesity rates stay on their current path, 56.7 percent of Pennsylvania residents will be obese by 2030. This is a large jump from 2011, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 28.6 percent of adults in the state were obese.

Across the country, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent by 2030.

The good news, said Levi, is the current path toward extreme obesity rates can be changed.

“We found that if states could lower obesity specifically by lowering the average body mass index (BMI) of residents by only five percent, every state could spare thousands of people from major obesity-related diseases while saving billions in health care costs,” said Levi.

To put that five percent into perspective, picture a six-foot tall man weighing 200 pounds. For this man to lose five percent of his BMI, he would have to lose ten pounds.

Levi said this skinnier reality is achievable, so long as it becomes and stays a national priority.

“We know a lot more about how to prevent obesity than we did ten years ago,” he said. “In our report we outline how policies like increasing physical activity time in schools to making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable, can help make healthier choices for Americans across the country.”