New projections on the growth of the US obesity epidemic emerged last week, during the national “Weight of the Nation” conference in Washington, DC. The new information heightens the call for action to reduce obesity and chronic disease, and get more Americans living healthier, more active lifestyles. One such projection, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that obesity will continue to rise over the next 18 years, extending to 42% of Americans by 2030.
This is a slower growth rate than previously estimated; however, it will still generate a 130% increase in the number of severely obese Americans, and will take a significant toll on the economy and the nation’s health care system. According to the CDC, additional spending on healthcare for Americans who will join the ranks of the obese in the next 18 years was projected to reach $549.5 billion over the next two decades.
In contrast, another study presented at the conference—and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine—found that if growth rates of obesity were cut by just 1% a year over the next two decades, the US could save $85 billion in health care costs, reports MSNBC. Keep obesity rates at their current levels and the US will save nearly $550 billion during the same time frame.
The opportunity for health clubs to step-in and serve as resources in helping Americans lose weight and be healthy is now, said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “Clubs have the unique opportunity to serve as a solution to the nation’s obesity epidemic while also laying the groundwork for a vibrant future for the industry,” said Moore.
Moore says the new data is important for health clubs trying to make a difference in our nation’s health, because it demonstrates the power that small, incremental changes can have on the economy. “For those clubs that may find it hard or time consuming, or both, to get involved in advocacy to promote the industry, it is important for them to know that any amount of time or effort can make a difference.”