U.S. Obesity Rate Projected to Reach 42 Percent

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a projection that the obesity rate in the United States is expected to reach 42 percent by the year 2030. Currently, just over a third of American adults are obese, and nearly 17 percent of children, according to an article published in the Los Angeles Times.  These percentages translate to about 78 million adults and 12.5 million kids. While this projection is no doubt troubling, the good news is that the study found that the rate of obesity growth has slowed from the previous decades. On the other hand, however, the rate of severely obese people (those carrying approximately 80 excess pounds or more) is expected to grow by 130 percent.

Some of the weight trends that were captured in the projection include the transition into adulthood of a population of obese children, the growing population of Latinos, among whom obesity is a growing problem, and the aging of overweight and obese adults, who are far more likely to put on more weight than to lose weight as they age. On a positive note, the study found that the growth rate of obesity in women is projected to be fairly flat.  Additionally, earlier predictions based on the soaring rates of the 1980s ,1990s and 2000’s had projected a 51 percent rise in obesity, while this study expects a 33 percent increase.

The growth in obesity would spur additional health care spending, with the additional obese Americans estimated at costing $549.5 billion in health care cost over the next two decades. Even small successes in anti-obesity initiatives could substantially reduce this figure, though, as it represents the difference between providing healthcare for a population with 34 percent obesity and a population whose obesity prevalence has grown to 42 percent.

The forecast accounted for several factors associated with eating and exercise habits: the density of restaurants, the cost of groceries, rates of unemployment, internet access and the price of gas. The key factor, according to the CDC, was the aging of the population, which pushes many overweight adults into the obese category, as well as many already obese adults into the “severely obese” category.  The study authors caution that predicting obesity rates is “tricky business”, despite the best models.  While exercise habits, accessibility of healthy food and convenience of fast food restaurants all influence a population’s tendency to put on the pounds, such factors stand alongside more powerful influences, such as genetics.

Genetics are believed to play an important role in one’s propensity toward weight gain.  A personalized approach may be the future of treatment of severe obesity, taking into account an individual’s DNA, combined with a personalized, in-depth understanding of physical fitness and clinical well-being. You can read more about this approach to obesity treatment here.

Comments are closed.