Florida's adult obesity rate could more than double by 2030, study finds

This product image provided by Vivus Pharmaceuticals Inc. shows bottles of Qsymia, the company's anti-obesity drug. The pill was approved Tuesday, July 17, 2012, by the Food and Drug Administration for patients who are overweight or obese and also have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. (AP Photo/Vivus Pharmaceuticals Inc.)

This product image provided by Vivus Pharmaceuticals Inc. shows bottles of Qsymia, the company's anti-obesity drug. The pill was approved Tuesday, July 17, 2012, by the Food and Drug Administration for patients who are overweight or obese and also have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. (AP Photo/Vivus Pharmaceuticals Inc.)

— More than 25 percent of adults in Florida are obese today and the rate could more than double in 20 years and take a huge toll on health-care costs if nothing changes, a study released Tuesday shows.

The state’s obesity rate among adults, now at 26.6 percent, could increase to 58.6 percent by 2030 if there is no progress in obesity prevention, according to the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The two nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations focus on health-related issues and have examined what’s happening with obesity in the United States for the past 5 years.

What’s new this year is a 2030 obesity forecast for each state. All 50 states could have obesity rates above 44 percent by 2030 if nothing changes.

Collier County this year ranks as the fourth healthiest county in the state, a slip from the top spot for 2010 and 2011, according to a different report released this past spring by Robert Wood Johnson. Lee County this year ranks 24th. The county health ranking looked at smoking, obesity, exercise, driving responsibly and other measures.

Collier’s obesity rate this year is 21 percent and Lee’s is 26 percent.

“The obesity and inactivity epidemics are of great concern to us from a public health perspective,” Deb Millsap, director of nutrition for the Collier County Health Department, said Tuesday in response to the new study. “There is a new norm today that belly fat is OK. However, belly fat is strongly associated not just with obesity, but with chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers, to name a few.”

The health department works with the Smart Growth Coalition in Collier to help promote active living with the installation of sidewalks and bike paths, and it works with the Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition to address childhood obesity.

“However, as much as the obesity and inactivity epidemics require community-wide solutions, we know each individual and each family can make a difference,” Millsap said. “Choosing to eat and feed your children healthy food and exercising together as a family can go a long way toward helping you and your loved ones from having a compromised quality of life or shortened lifespan because of chronic diseases related to obesity.”

The national report points out that while the annual medical cost related to obesity is difficult to calculate, it could run as high as $210 billion nationally, or $147 billion on the low end. The tab could go up by $48 billion to as much as $66 billion by 2030 if the nation’s obesity problem continues on its same course.

Lee Memorial Healthcare System in Lee County is part of a local group working to reduce obesity in the community for better health.

“We are not surprised by the findings because they have been trending in this direction for a long time,” Mary Briggs, Lee Memorial spokeswoman, said of the national report. “Our Community Health Visioning 2017 initiative has been working to reverse the trend by collaborating with businesses and organizations to find ways for our community to be knowledgeable about and engage in a healthy lifestyle.”

Despite the gloom, the study shows that states could dramatically reduce health-care costs if people reduce body mass index by 5 percent by 2030.

Glenn Burkett's supplements are branded with his face and name. The obesity epidemic hits men, too, but they are less likely to get serious about weight loss. Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Glenn Burkett's supplements are branded with his face and name. The obesity epidemic hits men, too, but they are less likely to get serious about weight loss. Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

“We know a lot more how to prevent obesity than we did 10 years ago,” Jeff Levi, executive director for Trust for America’s Health, said Tuesday.

He and Michelle Larkin, deputy director for health at Robert Wood Johnson, emphasized that tackling obesity is a shared responsibility among individuals, communities, schools, employers, and through government prevention initiatives.

“If we punish people for making certain choices, that isn’t going to make the culture change,” he said. “Government can’t make these changes. Everybody has to come together to fix it.”

They recommended investments in obesity prevention and emphasized the importance of nutritious school-based meals, of physical education programs in schools, and increasing access to healthier foods. One solution could be working with farmer’s markets to allow debit transactions for people receiving food stamp assistance.

Schools can help through formal physical education programs.

“Exercising 20 minutes a day makes a huge difference,” Levi said. “Integrating 20 minutes of physical (exercise) in a school system isn’t hard to do. It doesn’t require a physical education program.”

If Florida’s obesity rate is allowed to continue on its same course, there would be more than 2.4 million new cases of type-2 diabetes, 6 million new cases of heart disease and stroke and more than 5 million new cases of hypertension, according to the study.

In addition, 3.2 million Floridians will develop arthritis and another 870,000 residents could have obesity-related cancer.

“The future health and wealth of our nation is at stake and we can’t have a thriving nation without a healthy population,” said Larkin, with Robert Wood Johnson.

__ To see the report, go to www.healthyamericans.org or naplesnews.com.

Posted earlier

If Florida's obesity rate continues on its same course in the coming years, the obesity rate would more than double by 2030, according to new study findings released Tuesday show.

The state's obesity rate last year stood at 26.6 percent and could climb to 58.6 percent by 2030, according to the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study examined adult obesity rates in every state and how the obesity epidemic will remain a challenging health care crisis if changes are not made, according to the report. Obesity rates are highest in the South and Midwest. By 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates higher than 60 percent if there are no changes.

Check back to Naplesnews.com for more on this report.

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