Adult obesity rate in Pennsylvania may skyrocket by 2030

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Pennsylvania has a big, unhealthy future ahead of it -- bigger hospital beds, ambulances, airline and theater seats, not to mention more diabetes, heart disease, stroke and arthritis.

A new study predicts that the adult obesity rate in Pennsylvania could reach 56.7 percent by 2030, even as 13 states will weigh in at higher than 60 percent, along with a likely 9.1 percent rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs.

The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report Tuesday that includes a first-ever, state-by-state analysis of obesity rates in all 50 states two decades hence.

But the report also says that a reduction of just 5 percent in an individual's body mass index could dramatically reduce health care costs. For example, a 6-foot-tall person weighing 200 pounds would only have to lose 10 pounds to reduce his BMI by 5 percent.

"This study shows us two futures for America's health," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, a doctor and CEO of the Johnson Foundation. "At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable."

The fight against obesity has been ceded on some fronts, but is expanding on others. Hospitals, airlines and other organization have already begun replacing equipment with that designed to accommodate heavier people, even as weight loss surgical centers are growing in number. But last week, New York City banned the sale of sodas larger than 16 oz. at restaurants, mobile food carts, sports arenas and movie theaters, and McDonald's has announced it will post the calorie content of its food items on all its menus, ostensibly putting pressure on other fast food restaurants to follow suit.

nation - breaking - state - health

Mackenzie Carpenter: mcarpenter@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1949.


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