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Georgia Obesity Rates Could Climb to 53 Percent by 2030

Out of the 51 states, Georgia comes in at number 35 with the highest projected obesity rates, according to a new study.

The number of obese adults, as well as the related disease rates and healthcare costs, is on course to increase dramatically in Georgia over the next 20 years, according to a report released today by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). 

Georgia ties with Montana at number 35, out of the 51 states, projected to have an obesity rate of 53.6 percent by 2030. Mississippi is projected to have the highest obesity rate (66.7 percent) and the District of Columbia (32.6 percent) with the lowest.

The report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012, includes an analysis that forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and healthcare costs.

On the flip side, the analysis also shows that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce health care costs if they reduced the average body mass index of their residents by just 5 percent by 2030.

  • For a six-foot-tall person weighing 200 pounds, a 5 percent reduction in BMI (Body Mass Index) would be the equivalent of losing roughly 10 pounds.

“This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.”

The analysis below was commissioned by TFAH and RWJF and conducted by the National Heart Forum. It's based on a peer-reviewed model published last year in The Lancet. 

  • The obesity rate in Georgia could reach 53.6 percent by 2030

Over the next 20 years, obesity could contribute to:

  • 1,119,425 new cases of type 2 diabetes,
  • 2,260,639 new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke,
  • 2,285,570 new cases of hypertension,
  • 1,523,222 new cases of arthritis, and
  • 324,982 new cases of obesity-related cancer in Georgia.  

By 2030, obesity-related healthcare costs in the state could climb by more than 24.3 percent, which could be the fifth highest increase in the country.

Nationally, nine states could see increases of more than 20 percent, with New Jersey on course to see the biggest increase at 34.5 percent. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., could see increases between 15 percent and 20 percent.

But the news is not all bad; the report also shows how reducing obesity could lower disease rates and healthcare costs.

  • If BMIs were lowered by 5 percent, Georgia could save 7.7 percent in healthcare costs, which would equate to savings of $22,743,000,000 by 2030. 

 The number of Georgia residents who could be spared from developing new cases of major obesity-related diseases includes:

  • 238,019 people could be spared from type 2 diabetes,
  • 185,409 from coronary heart disease and stroke,
  • 184,624 from hypertension,
  • 108,753 from arthritis, and
  • 12,073 from obesity-related cancer. 

The report includes a series of policy recommendations, including:

  • Fully implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, by implementing the school meal standards and updating nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages in schools;
  • Protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund;
  • Increase investments in effective, evidence-based obesity-prevention programs;
  • Fully implement the National Prevention Strategy and Action Plan;
  • Make physical education and physical activity a priority in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
  • Finalize the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Guidelines;
  • Fully support healthy nutrition in federal food programs; and
  • Encourage full use of preventive health care services and provide support beyond the doctor’s office. 

The full report with state rankings in all categories is available on the Trust for America's Health website.

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Question of the Week: What Can We Do to Reduce Georgia's Rising Obesity Rate?

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