RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Adult obesity could reach nearly 50 percent in Virginia over the next 20 years, leading to an increase in disease rates and health care costs, according to a report released Tuesday.
The new projections were released by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The two organizations regularly report on obesity to raise awareness, and they rely on government figures.
The report predicts that by 2030 more than half the people in 39 states will be obese, beyond the 42 percent national obesity level that federal health officials project during that time.
About two-thirds of Americans are overweight. That includes those who are obese, a group that accounts for about 36 percent. Obesity rates have been holding steady in recent years.
Trust for America's Health officials said the projections are reasonable and were based on state-by-state surveys by federal health officials from 1999 through 2010.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.2 percent of adults in Virginia were obese in 2011. But the report says that if obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, the rate could reach 49.7 percent in Virginia by 2030.
That increase could contribute to millions of new cases of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and other obesity-related diseases over the next 20 years. And the report says the obesity-related health care costs in Virginia could climb by more than 23.8 percent during that time. Medical costs from treating obesity-related diseases nationally are likely to increase by $48 billion, to $66 billion per year by 2030.
According to the report, obesity-related diseases can be prevented and health-care costs reduced if Virginia adults reduce their average body mass index by 5 percent by 2030. For instance, that would mean a 6-foot tall person who weighs 200 pounds would lose roughly 10 pounds.