Cutting the fat: Tackling America’s obesity problem so children can become healthy adults
Even more children are at-risk of becoming obese adults by the year 2030. That’s what a new report from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded. And unless both the federal and state governments take steps to curb the trend, cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other weight-related conditions are projected to spike.
The report claimed that if states’ obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030. As a result, obesity could contribute to more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.
Further, by 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.
The report suggested that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce health care costs if they took efforts to reduce the average body mass index of their residents by just 5 percent by 2030. It also provided a series of policy recommendations, including:
- Fully implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, by enacting the new 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.