We all know that many Americans' waistlines are increasingly expanding, but just how bad could it get? Brace yourself: The majority of adults in at least 39 states will be obese in 18 years, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012, a report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In fact, if trends continue, all 50 states will have adult obesity rates above 44 percent by 2030, 39 states will have rates above 50 percent, and 13 states will have adult obesity rates above 60 percent. Mississippi is predicted to have the highest obesity rate, with two-thirds of the population having a BMI of at least 30, while Colorado will be the slimmest state, with just under 45 percent obese. That's quite a jump from the current highest and lowest obesity rates (as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): 34.9 percent in Mississippi and 20.7 percent in Colorado.
With these possible increases come other issues, such as increasing rates of disease and subsequent rising health care costs. According to the report, the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension, and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030. In the next 20 years, nine states could see their obesity-related health care costs climb by more than 20 percent.
To help curb the growing tide, the report offers a fairly realistic option: Reduce the average body mass index of state residents by 5 percent by 2030 by improving nutrition and physical activity standards in schools, increasing the funding of effective obesity-prevention programs, supporting healthy nutrition in federal food programs, and encouraging the use of preventive health care services, along with funding other private and public initiatives to improve the health of the country.
So which states rank the best and the worst when it comes to obesity rates? Here's the 2011 list of the 10 heaviest states, along with the states the report predicts will have the highest obese population percentages by 2030:
Most Obese States in 2011
1. Mississippi (34.9%)
2. Louisiana (33.4%)
3. West Virginia (32.4%)
4. Alabama (32.0%)
5. Michigan (31.3%)
6. Oklahoma (31.1%)
7. Arkansas (30.9%)
8. Tie: Indiana (30.8%); and South Carolina (30.8%)
10. Tie: Kentucky (30.4%); and Texas (30.4%)
Projected Most Obese States by 2030
1. Mississippi (66.7%)
2. Oklahoma (66.4%)
3. Delaware (64.7%)
4. Tennessee (63.4%)
5. South Carolina (62.9%)
6. Alabama (62.6%)
7. Tie: Kansas (62.1%); and Louisiana (62.1%)
9. Missouri (61.9%)
10. Arkansas (60.6%)
Those are some pretty big numbers. Are you surprised by these projections? Where does your state rank?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.