Almost 42 percent of the U.S. population could be obese by 2030, according to a study released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The findings suggest the U.S. healthcare system could be burdened with 32 million more obese people within two decades. Action is needed to keep rates from increasing further, said researchers from Duke University, RTI International and the CDC.
By the most current obesity statistics, 35.7 percent of American adults -- 78 million people -- and 16.9 percent of U.S. children and adolescents -- 12.5 million kids -- are obese, meaning their body-mass index is 30 or over.
The new study also forecasts an increase in the number of individuals with severe obesity, with rates rising to 11 percent by 2030. Severe obesity is defined as a body mass index over 40 or roughly 100 pounds overweight.
Severely obese individuals are at highest risk for the health conditions caused by excess weight, resulting in substantially greater medical expenditures and rates of absenteeism.
The study, based on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and state-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other organizations, was published Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.