By Prue Salasky, email@example.com | 757-247-4784
4:39 AM PST, December 10, 2012
Doctors are calling obesity an epidemic and the nation's greatest health crisis.
What is obesity?
This year, the American Heart Association reported 75 million U.S. adults as clinically obese. Medically, obesity is defined as an individual having a BMI, body mass index, a height to weight ratio, of 30 or higher. The term "morbid obesity" is applied to those who are 75 to 100 pounds overweight.
In Virginia, 29.2 percent of adults (almost one in three) are considered obese, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 2012 report with the Trust for America's Health, "F as in Fat" – How Obesity Threatens America's Future."
Virginia ranks the 15th worst among the states. The foundation predicted a growth in obesity by 2030 to 49.7 percent, or almost half of Virginia's adults, with an associated increase in the state's health costs of almost 25 percent.
In 2006, obesity-related health care nationally accounted for more than $147 billion in spending, or 10 percent of all medical costs. If the trend continues, the report predicts obesity care spending of $957 billion by 2030.
Diseases related to obesity
Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension, joint problems, arthritis and cancers are all linked to obesity.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation predicts a 10-fold increase in these diseases between 2010 and 2020, followed by a doubling by 2030. It attributes one-third of cancer deaths to obesity.
"Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and health care costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director, the Trust for America's Health.
Lose 10 pounds and …
In its 9th annual report, "F as in Fat," http://www.healthyamericans.org, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation set out the potential impact of a 5 percent reduction in BMI levels across the board. (For a 6-foot tall person weighing 200 pounds, a 5 percent reduction in BMI would be the rough equivalent of losing 10 pounds.)
Potential savings in Virginia:
• $18 billion, or 7.4 percent, in health care spending
• 210,000 fewer with Type 2 diabetes
• 184,000 fewer with heart disease and stroke
• 176,000 fewer with hypertension
• 105,000 fewer with arthritis
• 14,000 fewer with cancer
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