By Amy Norton
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A decade from now, roughly half of U.S. adults will be obese -- with nearly one-quarter severely so, a new study projects.
The predictions by researchers at Harvard University paint a grim picture: By 2030, the prevalence of adult obesity will be at least 35% in every U.S. state, and in 29 states, the figure will top 50%.
Particularly troubling is the expected rise in severe obesity, experts said.
"It's really alarming, because that's when the risk of obesity-related health conditions is high," said Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.
Schwartz, who was not involved in the study, said it provides useful information, since it breaks down which states -- and which groups of Americans -- will be most affected.
While no state will be untouched by the nation's obesity problem, some will clearly bear a greater burden.
In 25 states, more than one-quarter of the adult population will be severely obese, the researchers project. Some of the highest rates -- all topping 30% -- will be in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
"There's no state where things are getting better, or even leveling off," said lead researcher Zachary Ward, an analyst at Harvard's Center for Health Decision Science.
Women are expected to have higher rates of severe obesity than men, with nearly 28% falling into that category by 2030. Meanwhile, one-third of blacks will be severely obese, making them the most affected racial/ethnic group.
And among U.S. households with an annual income of less than $50,000, severe obesity will become the single-most common weight category.
Estimates like these -- by state and by demographics -- are valuable, according to June Stevens, a spokesperson for The Obesity Society.
"The causes of obesity are very complex and include characteristics related to where you live, your culture and even your friends," said Stevens, who is also a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"These relationships contribute to different groups of Americans being affected by the obesity epidemic differently," Stevens said.—To be concluded--WebMD