A Duke University study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, estimates that by the year 2030, the percentage of our population considered obese is projected to hit 42%. Currently, 34% of Americans are considered obese so the increase would be 32 million Americans. And of the total, 11% will be severely obese in 2030, compared with 6% now.
According to the study, if the current rate of obesity could be held at 34%, America would avoid an estimated $550 billion in related medical costs over the next two decades.
If 34% of the American population had a specific disease it would be considered an epidemic and we would be clamoring to find a cure. Think about it for a minute, if I told you that 1 in every 3 people you know had a contracted a disease that would make it difficult to function and reduce their lifespan by more than 20 years don’t you think you’d be praying for a cure?
Well, the scenario I asked you to imagine – IS REAL! Obesity is an epidemic and 34% of the population is affected. Americans struggling with obesity face a shortened life span and have difficulty functioning.
The obesity problem in the United States points to one of the fundamental problems with our system. Our health care system is designed to treat illness. We can treat and help control the effects of obesity related illnesses like heart disease and diabetes but our system is not designed to help prevent obesity.
Prevention is slow and doesn’t help “after the fact”, prevention is knowledge and the only way to prevent the spread of obesity is to begin educating and training children. Food is cheap and plentiful in the United States and that’s one of the reasons we have an obesity problem. The food that is cheap and plentiful is quite often bad for you and high in calories and fat.
Habits drive much of what we do and if we can instill good eating habits and the benefits of exercise in our youth, we may be able to stop the epidemic that is sweeping across our country.