HealthDay News — Projected U.S. obesity trends for 2030 could improve considerably if there was a 5% reduction in average BMI for all adults by state, a report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) suggests.

Current U.S. obesity rates per state range from 20.7% to 34.9%, with an obesity rate over 30% in 12 states. If these trends continue, researchers predict that more than 60% of people in 13 states could be obese by 2030, and and nine states would experience increases of more than 20% in obesity-related costs.

Projected new cases of obesity-related health complications per 100,000 population are as follows: 12,127 type 2 diabetes cases; 26,573 coronary heart disease and stroke cases; 24,923 hypertension cases; 6,152 arthritis cases; and 3,781 obesity-related cancer cases.

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“This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, the president and chief executive officer of RWJF, said in a statement. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.”

To this end, TFAH and RWJF commissioned the the National Heart Forum to investigate policies that could reverse these trends. The group made the following key policy recommendations for obesity prevention:

  • Fully implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, creating new school meal standards and updating nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages in schools
  • Protecting the Prevention and Public Health Fund
  • Increasing investment in effective, evidence-based obesity-prevention programs
  • Fully implementing the National Prevention Strategy and Action Plan
  • Making physical education and physical activity a priority in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
  • Finalizing the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Guidelines
  • Fully supporting healthy nutrition in federal food programs
  • Encouraging full use of preventive health care services and providing support beyond the doctor’s office

“Small changes can add up to a big difference. Policy changes can help make healthier choices easier for Americans in their daily lives,” Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH and professor of health policy at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C., said in a press release.

Using a peer-reviewed model published last year in Lancet, the researchers projected that if these strategies are effective at reducing the average BMI among U.S. adults by just 5% — the equivalent of 10 lbs. in a six-foot-tall person weighing 200 lbs. — thousands of obesity related disease and hundred of cancers could be prevented, and no state would have an obesity rate greater than 60%. Furthermore, every state except Florida would save 6.5% to 7.8% on obesity-related health costs.

Full methodology is available in TFAH and RWJF’s F is Fat Report: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012.