Based on the data collected over the past three decades from nationally representative surveys, researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have anticipated that US is likely to witness an obesity epidemic, with health care costs as much as 956.9 billion dollars.
"National survey data show that the prevalence of overweight and obese adults in the U.S. has increased steadily over the past three decades," said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Center for Human Nutrition.
"If these trends continue, more than 86 percent of adults will be overweight or obese by 2030 with approximately 96 percent of non-Hispanic black women and 91 percent of Mexican-American men affected.
This would result in 1 of every 6 health care dollars spent in total direct health care costs paying for overweight and obesity-related costs," Wang added.
May A. Beydoun, a former postdoctoral research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that over time heavy Americans would become more heavier
"The health care costs attributable to obesity and overweight are expected to more than double every decade. This would account for 15 to 17 percent of total health care costs spent," said Wang.
"Due to the assumptions we made and the limitations of the available data, these figures are likely an underestimation of the true financial impact," Wand added.
The authors warned that obesity has become a public health crisis in the U.S. Timely, dramatic and effective development and implementation of corrective programs and policies are needed to avoid the otherwise inevitable health and societal consequences implied by their projections.
The report appears in the July 2008 online issue of Obesity.