These maps are an indication of an extreme not only healthcare, but also financial issue in the US. By 2018, the country will be spending ~$340 billion annually on obesity-TRIPLING current levels! (source). Additionally, obesity is linked to many lifestyle diseases which lead to premature death.
In rank order, the 15 leading causes of deaths in 2005 were 1) Diseases of heart (heart disease), 2) Malignant neoplasms (cancer), 3) Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), 4) Chronic lower respiratory diseases, 5) Accidents (unintentional injuries), 6) Diabetes mellitus (diabetes), 7) Alzheimer’s disease, 8) Influenza and pneumonia, 9) Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease), 10) Septicemia, 11) Intentional self-harm (suicide), 12) Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, 13) Essential (primary) hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (hypertension), 14) Parkinson’s disease, and 15) Assault (homicide). (source) Twelve of the fifteen top causes are lifestyle related and almost all of them can be linked to obesity. Those twelve causes make up almost 73% of deaths in the US. Imagine if we took preventative measures towards obesity before people developed lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The healthcare system could focus on health-not disease and the country would not have the financial troubles that it has now. The US would have a healthier population and in my opinion, a more productive workforce which in turn would help the economy even more! The army has recently stated that they are have issues recruiting because so much of the younger population is obese. So obesity is even affecting national security!
Obesity is literally and figuratively a very large problem. Groups around the country are starting to form to combat this epidemic. The government is starting to look at the obesity issue and taking strides against it with Michelle Obama's Let's Move program, a promising healthcare legislation is in the works and an increased focus on childhood obesity is happening everywhere including on TV with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and reality shows. What can you do in your neighborhood to help fight the problem? Can you start in your home and start educating your family or roommates? How about only bringing healthful items into your home so you don't turn to the bag of chips when you are too tired to make dinner? Would your community be interested if you started a walk or run club in your neighborhood? Ever thought of hosting a healthy potluck? The obesity issue is not going away anytime soon. Efforts need to be made on a large and small scale to attach the problem from all angles. What are you going to do about it?
Here are some sources you can check out for more information on obesity:
Obesity Rates Jump in 28 States, Report Shows
F: As in Fat How Obesity Threatens America's Future
CDC US Obesity Trends
National Vital Statistics: Deaths-Final Data for 2005