The rapidly rising costs of accommodating obese citizens is a serious problem that is only going to get worse if Americans don’t change their eating habits right now.
A new report just released by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says a full half of all U.S. adults will be obese by the year 2030 unless more Americans begin changing their ways and reduce their calorie consumption and increase their overall levels of physical activity.
Factors leading to this sobering national health prediction include the fact that currently, 26 of the 30 U.S. states with the highest adult-obesity rates are in the Midwest and South, led by Mississippi where 34 percent of adults are obese, Louisiana with 33 percent, and West Virginia following close behind at 32 percent. Even those states with the lowest rates of obese adults in the nation today still rank in the 20 percent range though, with Colorado at 20 percent and Hawaii with 21 percent.
The current rates of childhood obesity in the U.S. also contribute to the 50 percent obese prediction by 2030 because back in 1980, just 6 percent of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 were obese and today, a shocking 26 percent of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 are now obese. In that same 30 year period, the rate of teenage obesity in this country rose from 5 percent to 18 percent as well.
Today’s obesity epidemic could also be called a national eating epidemic as Americans now eat far more calories than they did in the past. Today, Americans eat on average about 300 more calories per day than they did back in 1985 and they eat a whopping 600 more calories than the average consumption was in 1970. In today’s era of inexpensive, calorie filled meals, many Americans may be getting more than their money’s worth due to super-sized portions as well. The meals and foods Americans prepare today are nearly twice as large as they were just a decade ago as well, with both foods and drinks being larger and more calorie-filled across the board. In this climate of super-sized, sugar-filled drinks, health and nutrition experts say that simply eliminating just 160 calories per person, per day could reduce the national incidence of childhood obesity by a full 5 percent in the next 8 years leading up to 2020.
Contributing to the obesity problem along with larger, calorie stuffed meals is the nearly one-third of the U.S. population who say they do not engage in any type of physical activities at all other than the minimum efforts that may be required at their jobs. The states with the highest rates of adult physical inactivity are currently Mississippi with 36 percent inactive, Tennessee following with 35.2 percent, and West Virginia with 35.1 percent of adults who are primarily sedentary. The states with the lowest rates of adult physical inactivity today are Colorado with 16.5 percent, Utah with 18 percent and California at 19.1 percent.
All of that extra weight Americans are carrying around costs the nation more money too. The average cost of medical expenses now paid by Medicaid for just one obese child are estimated to be $6,730 per year, compared to just $2,446 for non-obese Medicaid-covered children. The costs for kids with private medical insurance reflect the same gap as well, with obese kids incurring about $3,743 in medical costs per year compared to just $1,106 for the non-obese children. The cost of health care for obese U.S. adults shows the same disparities, and anyway you slice it, accommodating obese citizens is a significant factor contributing to the nation’s rapidly rising medical care costs.