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As we approach the holiday season this year, we should keep in mind a new study released last month warns that 42% of Americans could be obese by 2030 (up from 36% in 2010) and 11% could be severely obese, which means about 100 pounds overweight (vs. 6% in 2010). The study, done by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation projects that in every state the rate of obesity could reach 42% and in thirteen states, that number could exceed 60% of the population. Mississippi, which currently leads the nation in obesity rates, could have as many as 2/3 of its population obese by 2030. At the other extreme is Colorado, which has the lowest rate today (21%) and still could have the lowest rate in 2030.

As we debate the cost and remedies for health care in the U.S. as a major issue in the 2012 Presidential election, we should all remember that the extra weight we carry as a nation takes a significant toll on our collective health. It increases the risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea and other chronic illnesses. For example, we could be facing as many as 8 million new cases of diabetes a year (compared with 2 million new cases a year now) or 7 million new cases of chronic heart disease and stroke every year compared with 1.3 million new cases a year now. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, if 42% of Americans are obese by 2030, this would add almost $66 billion a year to our health care costs or almost $1.2 TRILLION by 2030.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30. Overweight means a BMI of 25-30. BMI can be calculated online quite easily and considers the ratio of your weight to your height.

There are a number of strategies available to us that can help us to fight obesity at the individual level, including:

  1. Following a low-calorie, low-fat diet
  2. Keeping track of food intake
  3. Counting calories, carbs or fat grams or using a commercial weight-loss program to track food intake
  4. Walking about an hour a day or burning the same calories doing other physical activities
  5. Eating breakfast regularly, including whole grains and low-fat dairy products
  6. Limiting eating out to no more than 3 times a week and fast food to less than once a week
  7. Watching fewer than 10 hours of TV a week
  8. Weighing yourself at least once a week

And so, as we approach the holidays and all the meals and parties associated with them, remember the simple formula: eat less and exercise more. Our lives are at stake!

Feel free to pass this issue of the Goldhaber Warnings Report on to any friend or colleague.

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Dr. Gerald M. Goldhaber, the President of Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC, is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of Political Polling and Warning Label Research. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, as well as educational and governmental organizations. He has conducted hundreds of surveys, including political polls for candidates running for U.S Congress, Senate, and President. Dr. Goldhaber also served as a consultant to President Reagan's Private Sector Survey for Cost Control.

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