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Obesity Predictions: Solutions

If states could reduce the average adult BMI by just 5%, the researchers estimate, no state would have an obesity rate above 60%.

For an adult of average weight, the researchers say, reducing BMI by 1% is about equal to losing 2.2 pounds.

Obesity Predictions: Perspectives

The new predictions are higher than those made by some other experts.

"Our national estimate for 2030 was about 42% obesity overall in the U.S.," says Justin Trogdon, PhD, a research economist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

That research was presented earlier this year. Their report took into account the possibility of the slowing of the obesity epidemic, he says.

Even so, Trogdon says, the new estimate ''doesn't strike me as unreasonable. It definitely seems within the realm of possibility."

The focus should be on those who have severe obesity, defined as those with a BMI 40 and above, says Roland Sturm, PhD, senior economist at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif.

''The focus on moderate obesity [BMI over 30] misses the most disconcerting changes, which is in severe obesity," he says.

Much research, he says, suggests that moderate obesity rates have already leveled off.

Obesity Prevention, Reduction Steps

Public health programs encouraging healthy habits can help, Levi says.

Individuals can make small changes, too, he says.

"Be more active," Levi tells people. Replace an hour of screen time with an hour of physical activity.

Make small diet changes. "The change could be as little as one less sugar-sweetened beverage a day," he says.

Commit yourself to some small change, Trogdon says. For instance, decide not to keep snacks at home.

"I don't keep desserts at home," he says, "and I don't visit that aisle in the grocery store." He will occasionally eat dessert when dining out, he says.

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