Yes, we’re in the wellness business, and yes, this is our Blog. So, it will come as no surprise that we’re going to talk about wellness—and what we can all do about it on a personal level. To do this, we’re going to also have to talk about a pretty scary forecast. A study in the journal Obesity reports that in just over 20 years “the vast majority of Americans will be overweight or obese.”
Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows about 66 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Dr. Youfa Wang, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and author of the study says by 2030 that number will rise to 86 percent. If this prediction turns out to be on target, Wang and his colleagues estimate the additional overweight and obesity would add up to between $860 billion and $956 billion per year in health expenditures to treat these and the accompanying related chronic conditions (up from $147 billion in 2008). And this means $1 of every $6 spent on health care would be spent as a result of overweight and obesity.
We eat more, we move less—and so do our children. The average American eats 50 pounds more meat and 20 pounds more cheese per year than they did in the 1960s. Nearly half of all American adults (4 in 10) report they are not active at all. Obesity has tripled among teens in the last 20 years. Nationally, obesity rates have nearly quintupled among 6 –to 11- year olds and tripled among children ages 2 to 5 since the 1970s. And, the doubling of obesity between 1987 and today accounts for 20 to 30 percent of the rise in health care spending.
Now, what might happen if we use this information to focus on how we can change those behaviors that got us to this point, to those that promote health and long-term wellness? Like we say when we address groups of employees or individual LoneStart Wellness participants, “Modest but meaningful changes lead to long-term and sustainable weight loss and wellness.” And just a few modest behavior changes can dramatically improve our collective health. We also point out that what we’re talking about is making “lifestyle changes that change lives.”
Predictions are possibilities—not guarantees. Will the forecast ring true? Will we do anything to keep it from happening? Will we finally take control of our own health?