Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in America. Despite its lethality it is not America’s costliest health problem. That distinction goes to an epidemic that began less than 30 years ago and accounts for 20 percent of total U.S. healthcare spending. Presently this scourge affects one-third of adults. By 2030 it could affect as many as 42 percent of adults. Of the ten most common causes of death, four are influenced by this health problem.
That malady is known as the obesity epidemic.
The number of U.S. citizens who are affected by obesity is staggering – 78 million adults and nearly 13 million children.
A particularly alarming consequence of the obesity epidemic is its effect on children. Eighty percent of obese children remain obese as adults. Health problems that obese children carry into adulthood include diseases of the liver, heart, lung and joints as well as type 2 diabetes. Although type 2 diabetes formerly was referred to as “adult-onset diabetes,” this designation has become a misnomer with the recent surge in the number of children with type 2 diabetes.