A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, has found that adult obesity rates rose in sixteen states over the last year and have doubled or nearly doubled in seventeen states since 1995. There was not a decline in any state within that same time period and only one state, Colorado, has an obesity rate below 20 percent.
The burden that obesity is putting on our health care system is undeniable. It’s not just our health that is suffering: obesity-related medical costs and a less productive workforce are ultimately taking a toll on America’s ability to sustain a prospering global economy.
Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are currently obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk for more than 20 major diseases, including chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to a recent World Health Organization report (Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2010), 2.8 million people die worldwide each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
Many chronic diseases and their risk factors, like obesity are largely preventable and highly manageable with well-designed systems in place that emphasize prevention and care coordination. As our country and individual states continue to explore ways to improve health outcomes for their chronically ill population and to tackle soaring health care costs, policymakers must pinpoint what’s truly driving the costs in the program – the high prevalence of chronic disease.