KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — Over half of the United States population is projected to be obese within 10 years, a study showed, with a quarter predicted to be “severely obese”.
CNN reported a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found severe obesity, or over 100 pounds overweight, would become the most common body mass index (BMI) category nationally, with a higher than 25 per cent prevalence in 25 states. Currently, 18 per cent of all Americans are severely obese, with a BMI over 35.
“And we find that for very low-income adults — adults with less than $20,000 annual household income — severe obesity will be the most common BMI category in 44 states,” lead author Zachary Ward, an analyst at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health Decision Science, was quoted saying.
“So basically everywhere in the country.”
According to the study, at least 35 per cent of the US population in all 50 states will be obese.
Women, non-Hispanic black adults, and low-income adults who make less than US$50,000 annually were found to have the highest risk for severe obesity.
Aviva Must — chair of Tufts University’s Public Health and Community Medicine, who was not involved in the study — attributed the rise of obesity in the US to an increase in sugary drinks and ultra-processed foods, as well as the fall of prices of food, including unhealthy fast food options.
“Low food prices are certainly part of it,” Must was quoted saying.
“Also limited options for physical activity. And there’s a lot being written about the stress of structural racism and how that influences people’s behavioral patterns. So it’s very complicated.”
Ward and his Harvard team found in a previous study that eliminating tax deductions on advertising, improving nutrition standards for school snacks, and imposing an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages saved more in health care costs than the price to implement them.
A sugary drinks tax reportedly saved US$30 in health care costs for every dollar spent on the programme.