Lowering obesity rates could save $550 billion over 20 years

The number of obese people in the United States is expected to rise dramatically over the next 20 years if intervention methods are not implemented, according to research presented at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Weight of the Nation Conference in Washington, DC.

The study, based on research from Duke University, RTI International and the CDC and published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, predicts that 42% of the US population could be obese by 2030. It also forecasts that the rate of individuals with severe obesity — defined as having a body mass index over 40 — will increase by 11%, which could have a significant effect on the cost of health care.

“Keeping obesity rates level could yield a savings of nearly $550 billion in medical expenditures over the next two decades,” Eric Finkelstein, PhD, lead author and associate research professor in the Duke Global Health Institute, stated in a press release.

“We know more than ever about the most successful strategies that will help Americans live healthier, more active lives and reduce obesity rates and medical costs,” William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, director of CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity, stated in the release. “People need to make healthy choices, but the healthy choices must first be available and accessible in order to make them. In the coming days at our Weight of the Nation conference, CDC and its partners will emphasize the proven, effective strategies and solutions that must continue to be applied to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

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