The number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and health care costs, is on course to increase dramatically in Connecticut over the next 20 years, according to a new report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). For the first time, the annual report includes an analysis that forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs. Public health funding and preparedness data is also provided for all 50 states. Connecticut, the data indicates, ranked 33rd in state funding per capita in 2011. The analysis also shows that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce health care costs if they reduced the average body mass index of their residents by just 5 percent by 2030. The analysis, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012, was commissioned by TFAH and RWJF and conducted by the National Heart Forum, is based on a peer-reviewed model published last year in The Lancet.
- Projected Increases in Obesity Rates
If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, the obesity rate in Connecticut could reach 46.5 percent. According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011, 24.5 percent of adults in the state were obese. Nationally, by 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent.
- Projected Increases in Disease Rates
Over the next 20 years, obesity could contribute to 412,641 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 1,014,057 new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, 941,046 new cases of hypertension, 597,155 new cases of arthritis, and 147,883 new cases of obesity-related cancer in Connecticut.
Currently, more than 25 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, 27 million have chronic heart disease, 68 million have hypertension and 50 million have arthritis. In addition, 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, and approximately one in three deaths from cancer per year (approximately 190,650) are related to obesity, poor nutrition or physical inactivity.
- Projected Increase in Health Care Costs
By 2030, obesity-related health care costs in Connecticut could climb by 15.7 percent, which could be the 22nd highest increase in the country. Nationally, nine states could see increases of more than 20 percent, with New Jersey on course to see the biggest increase at 34.5 percent.
In the United States, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year by 2030, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.
How Reducing Obesity Could Lower Disease Rates and Health Care Costs
If BMIs were lowered by 5 percent, Connecticut could save 7 percent in health care costs, which would equate to savings of $ 7,370,000,000 by 2030. The number of Connecticut residents who could be spared from developing new cases of major obesity-related diseases includes:
- 83,932 people could be spared from type 2 diabetes,
- 79,528 from coronary heart disease and stroke,
- 75,911 from hypertension,
- 38,564 from arthritis, and
- 6,374 from obesity-related cancer.
Earlier this year, the Connecticut Coalition Against Childhood Obesity formed to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity and the urgent need to address its connection to Connecticut’s educational achievement gap. The Coalition, comprised of more than 30 health advocacy organizations, stresses that the connections between better health and better academic achievement make action against childhood obesity an education as well as health imperative. Among the initiatives approved by the Connecticut General Assembly, with the support and advocacy of the coalition, was a pilot program for school health coordinators in a number of districts, highlighting the links between children’s health and academic performance.