If you are concerned about the health problems related to obesity today then you have got to check out the projections for 2030! If we don’t make some major lifestyle changes in the US we will be heading down a very dangerous road where heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and other major diseases are much more prominent.
Right now 35% of people in the US are considered to be obese according to The National Institutes of Health and their BMI calculator which you can check out here: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
According to a recent study based on what we are doing right now and where we are heading, it is estimated that 44% of people in the US will be obese by the year 2030. That is nearly half! Just image almost half of your friends and family struggling with major health concerns that are tied into their weight.
While the BMI calculation scale has its flaws, this method does give a way to look at this growing problem from a bit of a broader scale. We know that weight isn’t the only factor in health but it can be an indication of underlying problems with hormones, lifestyle, activity, and nutrition.
Some Areas of the Country are Worse Than Others!
Some areas of the country will struggle with this problem more than others. For example in the 13 states that are of the most concern, 60% of their population is said to become obese by 2030.
The study was specifically about clinical obesity and not those who carry a little extra weight. These individuals who are obese are much more likely to struggle with major health issues. Studies like this can help us pinpoint problems and problem areas so that we can make course corrections now to help keep people healthier longer.
“The initial reaction is to say, ‘Oh it couldn’t be that bad’,” says Jeff Levi, of the Trust for America’s Health. “But we have maps from 1991 and you see almost all the states below 10 percent.”
By 2011 literally every single state in the US was above the 20% obesity mark which means they have a body mass index score of 30 or above based on height, weight, and gender.
According to the CDC, 12 US states have an obesity rate of over 30% and the worst state of all is Mississippi which is at 34.9%. This means about 1 in 3 people living in Mississippi are clinically obese.
According to the same CDC report, Colorado appears to have the lowest percentage of obesity in their population which is 20.7%.
“The number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020 — and then double again by 2030,” according to the report. “Obesity-related health care costs could increase by more than 10 percent in 43 states and by more than 20 percent in nine states.”
This growing health epidemic is going to make it even harder to afford health care costs whether you do it privately through insurance or use programs such as medicare. The system is already strained and by 2030 it will easily become overwhelmed.
In the next 20 years, it is predicted that 6 million people will get diabetes, another 5 million will end up with heart disease, and at least 400,000 cases of cancer will arise because of the increase in obesity.
Obesity will affect the Old and the Young
And some of the people at risk are frighteningly young.
“Now I am seeing 25-year-olds weighing 350 pounds who present with chest pain or shortness of breath,” says Cardiologist Dr. Sheldon Litwin, from Georgia Health Sciences University.
“Everything from the heart disease process to its diagnosis and treatment are affected by obesity. We see it every day. This really is the number-one issue facing us,”
The Good News
The good news about this is that people are starting to see these trends and taking steps to choose other lifestyle paths. Even in some of these problem areas people are choosing to eat more plant-based diets, become more active, while studying and eating more nutritious foods.
“We certainly see, in some communities, the beginning of some changes,” says Levi. “We know what some of the answers are.”
While we make it easier for people to exercise every day we are also working to make it easier for people to access healthy foods.
“A large-scale study of New York City adults found that increasing the density of healthy food outlets, such as supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, and natural food stores is associated with lower BMIs and lower prevalence of obesity,” the report says.
Each area of the country will have to tackle this problem the way these see fit. While some communities focus on planting gardens and fruit trees, others may try to do bans such as the one on large soda drinks in New York.
“Every community is going to experiment with different approaches. It is going to be very interesting to see what happens in New York and whether this makes a difference,” Levi said.
According to Dr. Thomas Farley, New York is making the right move to prevent these very serious problems.
“How should government address the health problems caused by this successful marketing of food? To do nothing is to invite even higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and related mortality,” he wrote in a medical Journal.
The good thing about living in bigger cities such as Washington, D.C. or New York is that people do a lot more walking on average. Since people are more likely to use public transportation there is a lot more physical activity going on which helps people stay more healthy.
If everyone can take a few simple steps in their life to loose just a little bit of weight over the next few years we would prevent a lot of problems.
“If we could lower obesity trends by reducing body mass indices (BMIs) by only 5 percent in each state, we could spare millions of Americans from serious health problems and save billions of dollars in health spending —between 6.5 percent and 7.8 percent in costs in almost every state,” According to the report.
Statistically, people with more education or self-education not only earn more money to invest in their health but they have lower rates of obesity.
“More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who earned at least $50,000 per year,” the report notes.
Other studies have also shown that people who have more plant-based diets are also thinner and more healthy.
“Seven of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity were also in the bottom 10 for fruit and vegetable consumption,” According to the report.
While we need to work on our own health it is important that we involve our children in these live style changes as well. Educating them about nutrition, teaching them how to cook, and even grow a garden can make a huge difference in the health of our future generations.
“It is as simple as an hour a day less of screen time and one less sugar beverage,” Levi says. “Just 120 calories can make a big difference as to whether a kid crosses over from being normal weight into overweight and obesity.”
In the Journal of the American Medial Association children who exercise for only 20 minutes a day will lower their risk of developing diabetes by 18%! If they exercise, or as we call it playing outside in the yard, for 40 minutes per day you can cut the risk by 22%.
“Regulation sports tend to have kids standing around a lot waiting for the ball. We had enough balls so everyone was moving all the time,” says Dr. Catherine Davis from Georgia Health Sciences University. “It had to be fun or they would not keep coming.”
What do you do to stay healthy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.