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All Americans May Be Overweight in 40 Years

Posted by Jenny Albano
Friday, August 08, 2008 10:42 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Obesity, Overweight, Medical Costs, CDC, Protecting the Family

All Americans Overweight in 40 Years


· InjuryBoard of Obesity

· Americans weight gain in 23 years

· CDC on Obesity Report

· CDC trends in obesity

· Study in the journal of Obesity



According to a study in the journal of Obesity, all American adults may become overweight in forty years if the current weight trends continue unchanged.

The new projections are based on government survey data assembled from the 1970s to 2004.

Researchers do not think that the actual rate will reach the 100 percent mark, but the data suggests that if the trends of the past 30 years continue then that is the direction Americans are going. As of now two-thirds of the population in America is already overweight.

The CDC reported its obesity trends from 1985 to 2007 and in those 23 years the obesity rate went from around 10 percent in most states to only having four states with an obesity rate less than 20 percent. From just 2005 to 2007 the obesity rate rose two percent and the national average for obesity is 25.6 percent, which means more than one in four American adults are overweight.

Overweight and obese are both terms that are given when a person in not considered healthy for their given height and weight. To find if an adult is overweight or obese one must find their body mass index (BMI) which is based on a persons’ height and weight. An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and an adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

The researchers found that if the trends from the past 30 years continue, then 86 percent of American adults could be overweight by 2030 with an obesity rate of 51 percent. By the year 2048, all Americans could be somewhat overweight.

Some groups of U.S. adults already have extremely high rates of obesity. For example, 78 percent of African-American women are currently overweight or obese. Researchers believe that weight problems will be the most serious for African-Americans and Mexican-Americans. The study estimated that all African-American women would be overweight by 2034 and that 90 percent of Mexican-American men would be overweight by that time.

This study of course relies on the assumption that the trends of the past decades will continue to increase steadily without any change. Dr. Lan Liang of the federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, one of the researchers on the study, says that this information is really “intended as a wake up call to show what could happen if nothing changes.”

Liang and her colleagues also project that weight will not be the only thing increasing in the future. They estimate that healthcare costs will increase more than double because of the growing obesity problem. Healthcare costs will reach $957 billion in 2030, accounting for one of every six healthcare dollars spent in the U.S.

The financial projections are based on Census data and current healthcare costs that are attributed to weight. Liang believes that even these estimates are much too low.

Liang states that these findings show that is necessary for Americans’ to improve their lifestyles and to pay more attention to their weight. She said that eating less and exercising are not enough and that there needs to be a broader social change.

She does not believe that this country will become healthier with just the individual effort, and thinks that communities, restaurants, and the food industry need to do more to help, such as making neighborhoods more pedestrian friendly or offering more calorie-conscious foods.

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and even some cancers.

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