- November 25th 2011
Thirty-eight percent fewer Americans smoke today than 20 years ago, but 129% more are obese, which threatens to cost the U.S. health system hundreds of billions of dollars in the upcoming decade, according to a new public health report.
"There is a tsunami of chronic preventable disease about to be unleashed into the American health care delivery system," said Reed V. Tuckson, MD, executive vice president at the insurer UnitedHealth Group.
Public education, taxes and restrictions on smoking appear to be working. More than 3 million Americans quit since 2008, reducing the nation's smoking rate to 18.3%, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points. The 1990 rate was 29.5%, according to the 20th anniversary edition of "America's Health Rankings," released Nov. 17 by the UnitedHealth Foundation, the American Public Health Assn. and the Partnership for Prevention.
However, 26.6% of Americans are obese, up from 26.3% in 2008. If trends continue, the nation will spend an estimated $344 billi [Read more]