Nearly 57% of Pennsylvanians could be obese by 2030, study finds

Published: Sep 18 2012 04:59:18 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 18 2012 06:24:30 PM EDT
Obesity file

In the next two decades, obesity rates are expected to tip the scale.

A new report predicts Americans will pack on the pounds and the obesity rate in 39 states will pass the 50% mark.

According to the report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the obesity rate in Pennsylvania could reach 56.7 percent by 2030.

"It's a major issue for us, both for the health of our patients and for the economy of the region," said Dr. Stephen Myers, the medical director of Reading Hospital Weight Management. "People die earlier if they're people of size. In fact, about 10 years earlier than people of standard size."

Myers called the findings alarming. In March, a Gallup survey ranked Reading the 10th fattest city in the country, and now this.

"You got a lot of people that are poor and they can't afford to buy the pricier better foods. They buy what they can," said Ellen Clentimack, while shopping for groceries in Muhlenberg Twp., Berks Co.

With 56.7% obesity expected, it could cause millions of new cases of Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

By 2030, obesity related health care costs could jump 9.1% across Pennsylvania. The report also found if the average body mass index of residents in the state was reduced by 5%, it could save the commonwealth more than $24 billion.

The projections were based on state surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1999 through 2010.

Tanya Allen, a Berks County resident, was surprised by the staggering statistics and said both adults and children need to be more active.   

"I think people should start eating a lot healthier so they can live longer, and teach our children to eat healthy also," said Allen.