Among the major crises in America is the rising obesity epidemic. In the thirty years since 1980, obesity rates have more than doubled from 15% to 35% of adults – and what’s worse is that it is projected to continue rising to over 42% by 2030. While this may not seem like that drastic of a change, the number translates to roughly 32 million individuals. There is also the expectation that the super obese – those more than 100 lbs. overweight – will rise by 11% as well.
Part of what makes obesity (and the spiraling obesity rate) so deadly is the diseases and health conditions that are related to obesity. Between cancers, heart disease and diabetes (among many others), obesity wreaks havoc on a person’s health and well-being. Common nutrition and health information tell us that as long as the amount of calories we consume is within the same range as the calories we burn, we will remain the same size, weight and density. Unfortunately, the human body works differently. While an increase in the amount of processed food and an increasing normality to sedentary lifestyles continues, our hormones and genetics play factors also.
It is important to begin taking an active role in our own health and wellness. Finding a general care doctor with whom a person is comfortable is crucial. Ask the tough questions, gather suggestions for optimal health and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. By relying on doctors to simply know what we need to do, we are giving up the power to make the most impactful changes.
Healthcare costs for obesity-related conditions and problems are also exponentially on the rise. A recent American Journal of Preventative Medicine study suggests that healthcare-related expenditures could cost Americans up to $550 billion between now and 2030. With conditions like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease set to rise with the rate of obesity, so goes the cost to treat and maintain some semblance of health with these conditions.
What can a person do? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that if we can stop the rise of obese adults and maintain, we will not only save ourselves dollars, we will find a healthier (and happier) population. Ensuring that healthful eating and exercise are part of daily life is key. More important than that is knowing family history and educating oneself on health risks and probabilities related to lifestyle and adjusting accordingly. While reversing the obesity trend won’t be corrected overnight, making the small changes to get on that path are critical.