Study projects half of Americans will be obese by 2030

Local health experts better food choices and exercise are key to better health

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Obesity can lead to health problems that are the leading causes of preventable, premature death. A new study shows that one in two Americans will deal with obesity by 2030.

Local health educators say our society continues to have greater access to unhealthy habits. One of those habits is eating out.

We can use our smartphone to order food right to our door in minutes. They say changing our current culture can go a long way in setting up a healthier future.

Gundersen Health System wellness education specialist Shayna Schertz said the rise in obesity rates is not surprising.

“Obesity rates have risen in the past and they continue to rise,” Schertz said.

However, the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

“I think it’s scary,” Schertz said.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine projects half of Americans will be obese by 2030. The number of people struggling with obesity is expected to hit 50 percent or higher in 29 states.  The study predicts 1 in 4 people will be extremely obese.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30-35 percent of Wisconsin and Minnesota adults are obese. In Iowa, that number is north of 35 percent.

“La Crosse County’s obesity rates are at about 32 percent,” Schertz said.

There are solutions but the problem affects people differently.

“It’s a complicated issue because it’s not just one thing,” said Jordan Murray, a nutrition specialist with Riverside Corporate Wellness.

A common problem is the increased accessibility of processed food.

“Any time of the day anywhere you go you can get food,” Schertz said.

If the commute to work for many people has them passing fast food options.

“Think about your drive into work. You pass at least a dozen restaurants coming into work every day,” Murray said.

A lot of us work in an office environment and fail to move throughout the day.

“For people working in those office settings, finding a way to be active and building it into their workday is really vital,” Murray said.

Riverside Corporate Wellness offers exercise and diet opportunities to several companies in the area. The company aims to help employees of local companies a chance to form a healthy lifestyle.

“We offer a clinic, a registered dietitian,” Murray said. “We have a health educator. We have two fitness centers, one at Belle Square.”

Murray said these opportunities help people incorporate healthy choices into their routines.

“With the opportunities, we give those companies they really have a lot of chances to change that culture,” Murray said.

Schertz says the choices we make have an impact on how we will feel.

“Because we want to feel good,” she said. “We don’t want to feel sluggish. We don’t want to feel tired all of the time. We want to have the energy to play with our kids, our grandkids.

The medical cost for people who have obesity is $1,400 higher a year than those of normal weight according to the CDC.

Health experts say when we start healthy habits we become role models for other people and children. They say people don’t have to make a drastic change. Setting realistic goals are key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle.