A new study forecasts the adult obesity rate in Kansas could reach 62 percent — more than double the current rate — by 2030, contributing to 367,000 new cases of Type 2 diabetes and 769,000 new cases of heart disease and stroke.
“The track that we are on is leading us down a path to even worse health and significantly higher health care costs but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things we can do now to change the future,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health.
The 124-page report “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future” was released Tuesday by Trust for American’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The country’s obesity rate has seen substantial growth since 1995 when Mississippi had the highest obesity rate with 19.4 percent. Today, every state’s obesity rate is higher than 20 percent. Mississippi’s is now 34.9 percent. Kansas has seen its rate grow from 13.5 percent in 1995 to 29.6 percent.
“It truly is a nationwide crisis,” Levi said.
For the first time, the annual report included an analysis that looked at 2030 obesity rates in each state based on current trajectory and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related diseases and costs.
In Kansas in 2030:
• 62.1 percent — of adults would be obese. Someone who is obese has a body mass index of 30 or greater, which would be at least 186 pounds for a 5-foot-6 woman or 215 pounds for a 5-foot-11 man.
• $5.5 billion — will be spent on obesity-related health care costs, up 11 percent from today.
The report recommends spending more on prevention efforts and implementing policy changes at the national, state and local levels. Such initiatives might include increasing physical activity time in schools and ensuring farmers’ markets accept food stamps.
“Small changes can add up to a big difference,” Levi said.
The report highlighted efforts across the nation that are being made to reduce obesity, among them was Seaman High School in Topeka, which has about 1,150 students. It is preparing meals with lower-calorie, lower-fat ingredients and offering fresh fruit during breakfast and lunch. It also has established Wellness Wednesdays and Fitness Fridays activities that are designed to incorporate nutrition and fitness information into the school day.
“We need to invest in obesity prevention in a way that matches the disparity of the problem. We can’t afford not to," Levi said.
To view the full report, visit healthyamericans.org.