The percentage of U.S. residents who are obese is expected to reach 42% by 2030, according to a study released Monday at a CDC conference on obesity, the Washington Times reports.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, also found that the U.S. could save $550 billion in projected medical costs by maintaining the current obesity rate of 36% (Billups, Washington Times, 5/7).
Using data from 1990 to 2008 from CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, the researchers estimated that the number of U.S. adults who are obese will increase from 78 million in 2012 to more than 100 million by 2030 (Healy, Los Angeles Times, 5/8). The study also found that 11% of U.S. adults are expected to be severely obese by 2030 (Brown, Washington Post, 5/7).
The researchers estimated that preventing the extra cost of treating diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions in the additional obese residents would make up the $550 billion in savings (Los Angeles Times, 5/8).
Obesity Rates Leveling Off
U.S. obesity rates seem to be leveling off over the past 10 years, according to CDC epidemiologist Cynthia Ogden.
Among men, obesity rates has changed little over the previous eight years, while obesity rates among women have not changed in 12 years (Washington Post, 5/7).
That counters recent trends, in which obesity rates have risen at a record pace over the last three decades, according to the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, 5/8). As recently as 2008, a study predicted that 51% of U.S. residents would be obese by 2030.
However, obesity rates are rising in higher-income men and severe obesity rates are increasing in both men and women. Severe obesity among women rose from 6.2% in 1999 to 8.1% in 2010, while the percentage among men rose from 3.1% to 4.4% during that same time frame (Washington Post, 5/7).
Eric Finkelstein, the study leader, said it is unclear whether the obesity rate has slowed because of public policy initiative targeting childhood obesity, greater social awareness of the health risks associated with obesity or because U.S. residents have reached a maximum level of obesity (Los Angeles Times, 5/8).
Sebelius Calls for Continued Focus on Obesity
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday said local and national efforts to combat obesity should continue, regardless of reports that show obesity rates might be leveling off, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Sebelius -- speaking at the CDC conference -- said programs should continue to promote a "whole life approach" to healthy living and continued investment in community programs aimed at reducing chronic diseases. "The second that our focus shifts or our resources move elsewhere the threat can return and our health will suffer once again," Sebelius said (Bristol, CQ HealthBeat, 5/7).