As we get ready to chow down on holiday foods over the next couple of weeks, a new study has some grim news. It projects half of Americans will be obese and a quarter will be severely obese in the next decade.
While the prevalence of obesity isn’t projected to be as high in the Mountain West as in other parts of the country, the Harvard study suggests that no state will have an obesity rate less than 35% over the next few years.
Study author Zachary Ward says state lawmakers can use the data as a tool to predict some future health problems and work on prevention, especially in kids.
“Obesity is difficult to treat,” Ward said. “It’s difficult for people to lose weight and maintain that weight loss over long periods of time. So to really start combatting this epidemic, we need to start thinking about preventative measures.”
Colorado stands out in the study for having the lowest obesity rate in the nation. Still, the rate has increased from about 18% in 1990 to 32% now, and it’s expected to reach 38% in the next decade.
The study has limitations. It relies on CDC data that’s partially self-reported and focuses on body mass index. That’s a helpful measurement to compare height and weight and large obesity trends, but it doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle.
Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.