Despite this progress, the obesity rate remains unacceptably high. In Georgia, 35 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, with negative health, academic and psycho-social implications. Over 65 percent of adults in the state are overweight or obese. The full health and economic toll remains to be seen.
In Georgia, cases of adult onset diabetes are projected to increase from approximately 750,000 cases in 2010 to over 1.1 million cases by 2030. Heart disease is projected to increase from 465,000 cases to more than 2.2 million cases by 2030. The medical expenses attributable to obesity in this state are projected to reach $10 billion by 2018. These are daunting implications that should be a catalyst for further action.
Across the nation, the states and communities that have been most successful in halting and reversing childhood obesity have implemented comprehensive, multi-component campaigns that included a focus on diet and physical activity. In Georgia, an expanded effort incorporating school nutrition standards, social marketing and informational approaches promoting healthy behaviors, as well as community-clinical partnerships, are needed to build on emerging progress.
The same leadership, cooperation and partnership that led to the adoption of the SHAPE Act in 2009 and the subsequent Georgia SHAPE Initiative is now needed to define and implement a more far-reaching, evidence-based, statewide obesity prevention campaign that reaches all citizens, young and old. Now is the time to redouble our efforts and ensure a bright, healthy future for our state.