Forecast: 42% of Americans obese by 2030

By Drum Digital
21 May 2012

Forty-two per cent of adult Americans will be obese by 2030, up from 36 per cent currently, according to a new study presented at a national conference on obesity prevention held in Washington recently.

The study sees the proportion of the severely obese - roughly 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight - rising from 4.9 to 11 per cent by that date.

The researchers had a bit of good news to go with the alarming numbers: Although Americans are getting fatter, they are doing so at a slower rate. Several years ago the researchers had predicted that 51 per cent of the US population would be obese by 2030.

The study's lead researcher, Eric Finkelstein, a health economist with the Duke University Global Health Institute in North Carolina, said the reason for the deceleration was unclear.

Either government-sponsored anti-obesity initiatives have made Americans more health conscious, Finkelstein suggested, or the obesity-promoting environment in the country - the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, for example - has by now become about as bad as it can get.

The huge economic impact of obesity was also highlighted in the study, which put a nearly 550-billion-dollar price tag on obesity-related health-care costs by 2030 - mainly for treatment of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The prognosis made by the study's researchers is more pessimistic than that of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Earlier this year, the CDC put the obesity rate in the United States at a "stable" 35 per cent for adults and 17 per cent for children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years.

Obesity is of growing public concern in the United States - as well as being an opportunity for business. To cite but one example, there are now companies that sell extra-wide coffins reinforced with steel to bear the weight of corpses in excess of 200 kilograms.

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