It’s no secret that America is getting fatter (as are most developed nations). Anyone with eyes can see that. However, how fat is the future going to be? A recent study which I read about talks about the prospects of the Fat Future and what it would mean. It all seems rather grim and I decided to do some more reading to see how a fat future will look.
Fat Future – What Is Going To Happen
According to the study by Duke University, by 2030 42% of Americans are predicted to be obese. This means that 32 million more Americans will be obese in 18 years time. 11% of Americans will be severely obese, with a Body Mass Index of over 40, and much more likely to suffer obesity related diseases. Many more Americans will be merely overweight.
Before we begin to talk about some of the possible ramifications of this, I should note that there is a positive element to this news: it was previously expected that more than 50% of Americans will be obese by 2030. Now it seems that the upward trend of obesity is leveling off, so the situation may not be as bad as previously anticipated. However, a 42% obesity rate is still drastically high and a rather bleak prospect.
The Costs Of a Fat Future
In 2009, an article on USA Today claimed that rising obesity will cost the US Health Care system $344 billion each year. This was based on the prediction that by 2018 43% of Americans will be obese. As we can see, the current predictions are more optimistic and allow more time for reaction, but even if this figure is delayed until 2030, the costs are stupendous. Imagine what this money can do in other health fields if it would be diverted to research, improved facilities and equipment, and hiring more doctors and nurses.
It’s time to state the obvious: health costs are rising year after year not just because the population grows and gets older, but also because we are getting fatter on average.
These days, obesity related issues account for 9% of annual health care costs which amounts to $147 billion. This is each and every year. If more people become obese, this amount is expected to grow. If the obesity rate were to not grow anymore, then a savings of over $500 billion dollars would be achieved in the next two decades.
Where is this money going to come from? From higher health insurance premiums for private insurance and from higher taxation for government programs. Either that or the level of care will decrease and we all know what this means.
However, the health costs are not the only thing to consider. Imagine the toll an illness has on patients and their family. We’re talking about a society in which there are more sick people and greater suffering.
Time To Make Some Changes
Predicting the future is hard and, as we can see, trends do change. However, even if the obesity rates rise to a lower level than what is now predicted, we are well into the danger zone and we are all paying a heavy price for the bad health of our society. This is not just America, but Europe, Australia and virtually all of the developed world.
It’s time to take action. This is what we can do:
Taxes Can Be Good
Taxing soft drinks or high sugar or high fat foods can be a good idea. No one likes taxes, but if we can encourage consumption of good food it is worth paying for. Remember, if obesity rates continue to rise, so will health care costs, so some taxation is bound to happen.
Food taxes are good because only those who consume them pay, not the general public. It also sends a message that society doesn’t look kindly on these kinds of foods and beverages.
Government Intervention Can Be a Good Thing
Government can be a force for good in this case as it lays down regulations and laws to make food healthier and leaner, especially in schools where students have little choice but to eat what is served and where their eating habits are forged. If you develop bad eating habits as a child, chances are that you will be a fat adult.
So, I applaud Michelle Obama’s efforts in the fight against obesity. It is something that we should all support. It is a crisis that needs to be tackled with determination and power. Only the government can yield such a power.
Education Must Start Early
Children are getting fatter at a younger age and obesity related diseases are striking children these days, something which was nonexistent in recent past. There are even babies who show signs of obesity.
We must make healthy lifestyle a part of the education system and begin teaching children (and young parents) on the importance of exercise and healthy food. We can’t wait until the turn adult. By then, they may already be obese and this will be harder to turn around.
Take Care of Those Closest To You
We must all take responsibility not just for ourselves, but also for those closest to us. We must teach our kids to be healthy, support our family members and friends when they try to lose weight, shop healthy food, and cultivate an active lifestyle for us and our family. We must also be active in our community and smart consumers who demand healthier food and responsible marketing of fitness and weight loss products.
If you do these things, then the future may not be as fat as some fear. If we don’t, then obesity, already considered an epidemic, will continue to spread. We shall all pay the price.