Obesity Continues to Rise in Most States

Heavy Health Implications

The new numbers suggest the continuation of a steady trend toward obesity that has been seen over the past several decades. In 1980, the report notes, the national average of obese adults was a mere 15 percent. Today, according to figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention, about a third of adults are obese.

With the increase in obesity has come a spike in the diseases associated with excess weight. According to the report, rates of type 2 diabetes -- a disease typically associated with obesity -- grew in 26 states last year.

Levi said the spike in such diseases carries a financial burden as well.

"Obesity is not just about health; it has a real impact on our country's economy as well," he said.

Though estimates of exactly how much this added weight impacts the economy vary, CDC figures suggest the additional medical expenses brought about by overweight and obese Americans accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998 -- a figure that may have topped $78.5 billion.

In the decades to come, this figure could balloon to nearly $1 trillion every year, according the study published by Wang.

Slim Hopes?

Not all obesity-related news in the past year has been quite so bleak. In November 2007, a CDC study found that there was virtually no change in obesity rates among men and women between the periods of 2003-04 and 2005-06. A similar stall was seen in childhood obesity rates during this time period.

But most public health experts maintain that the rates still remain far too high for comfort. Particularly worrying is the fact that the obesity rate in children, while shown to be relatively stable in some past research, indicates that about 1 in 5 American children are obese.

Marks says the only way to reverse this trend is a greater investment from all sectors in society in anti-obesity efforts.

"The resources that have been devoted to improve the health of families and children and the steps taken remain few and ineffective," he said.

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