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Report: 39 States on Pace for Obesity Rates Above 50%
Date:9/19/2012

type 2 diabetes, 27 million with chronic heart disease, 68 million with hypertension and 50 million with arthritis.

More sickness will translate into higher health care costs, the report said.

If obesity rates continue to climb, obesity-related health-care costs will jump by $48 billion to $66 billion annually. That doesn't include lost productivity, which could reach almost $600 billion per year, according to the report.

Obesity already costs the United States an estimated $147 billion to $210 billion annually.

But the report also offers a potentially rosier scenario: What would the future look like if states adopted approaches that could lower residents' body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat) by just 5 percent?

Almost 800,000 people would be spared type 2 diabetes and 400,000 arthritis in California alone, the report said.

And health-care costs could decrease 6.5 percent to 7.9 percent.

According to Michelle Larkin, assistant vice president and deputy director of RWJF's Health Group, "pockets of progress" are already being seen. For instance, obesity rates in Philadelphia public school students have declined from 21.5 percent to 20.5 percent.

Larkin pointed to several policy initiatives that could help ease the obesity epidemic, including full implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which has updated meal standards as well as investment in obesity-prevention programs.

TFAH's Levi said, "To realize this [healthier] future [we] need to invest in obesity prevention programs that match the severity of the problem. We can't afford not to."

More information

View the full report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012 at the Trust for America's Health.

SOURCES: Sept. 18, 2012, news conference with Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director, Trust for America's
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