According to a new report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012," the number of obese adults is on course to increase dramatically across the country over the next 20 years. The report, which was recently released by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that by the year 2030, 39 states could have obesity rates above 50 percent. Currently, more than 35 percent of American adults are considered obese because they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
For the first time, the annual report also included an obesity-related disease forecast through 2030, along with how these diseases could be prevented if people reduced their average BMI by 5 percent. For example, reducing the BMI of an average adult by 1 percent percent would be equivalent to a weight loss of approximately 2.2 pounds. According to the CDC, the average American male over age 20 weighs 194.7 pounds and the average American woman over age 20 weighs 164.7 pounds.
Projected Increases in Diseases
Across the country, the report found that diseases related to obesity will continue to increase dramatically. For example, 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 double again by 2030.
In Ohio over the next 20 years, obesity could contribute to 1.6 million new cases of type 2 diabetes, 3.4 million new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, 3 million new cases of hypertension, 2 million new cases of arthritis, and almost a half-million new cases of obesity-related cancer. By 2030, obesity-related health care costs in Ohio could climb by 15.2 percent.
How Reducing Obesity Helps Lower Disease
Tips for Healthy Eating
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruitInclude low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruitChoose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and drink lots of water.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
The number of Ohioans, who could be spared from developing new cases of major, obesity-related diseases by reducing their BMI by 5 percent by 2030 includes:
- 342,192 people could be spared from type 2 diabetes
- 293,011 from coronary heart disease and stroke
- 249,255 from hypertension
- 144,774 from arthritis
- 22,974 from obesity-related cancer
Impact on Children
Across the country, more than 23 million American children and teenagers are considered overweight or obese. According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the number of overweight children in Ohio remains at more than 30 percent. Appalachian counties typically have the highest rates, and Columbiana County was listed as having over one-third of all third graders as being overweight or obese in 2010.
According to the ODH, childhood obesity is considered to be a public health epidemic. This is also supported by the "F as in Fat" report, which finds that children who are obese after the age of 6 are 50 percent more likely to be obese as adults. Among overweight tweens and teens ages 10 to 15, 80 percent were obese by age 25.
The report also found that children who are obese are more than twice as likely to die before the age of 55, than children whose BMI is in the healthy range. Being overweight is associated with both physical and psychological consequences, such as asthma, bone and joint ailments, sleep difficulties, high blood pressure, high cholesterol counts and Type 2 diabetes, which was rarely seen in children until recently. In addition, overweight children often suffer psychological problems from being teased and bullied by their peers, resulting in depression and low self-esteem.
Causes of Obesity
The main causes of childhood obesity are no surprise: lack of exercise and poor eating habits that were not seen in children decades ago; along with the effects of poverty and lack of access to healthy foods.
In addition, several studies have shown a link between obesity and the amount of "screen time" children spend in front of a TV, computer or other electronic device. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that those over 2 years old have no more than two hours of screen time each day, including time spent watching TV or using computers and video games. Instead, children should be encouraged to engage in more physical activity. Research has shown that physical activity also improves academic achievement, increases confidence/self-esteem and reduces discipline problems.
Along with increasing physical activity levels, healthy eating habits need to be encouraged, since there is a clear link between obesity and unhealthy food choices. For example, children who drank more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per day were the most likely to be overweight and obese. In Ohio, 40 percent of third-grade students drink more than two, sugar-sweetened drinks a day.