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Rising obesity rate could drive up to Bay State’s health care costs

The number of obese adults in Massachusetts, along with related diseases and health care costs, could rise dramatically over the next two decades if actions aren’t taken now to change the trend, according to a new report.

Nearly half of adults in Massachusetts — 49 percent — are projected to be obese by 2030 if the current trajectory continues, concluded the report released last Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, two nonprofit organizations that focus on improving health. Fewer than a quarter of adults in the state, approximately 23 percent, were reported to be obese last year, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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By 2030, Massachusetts could save roughly $14 billion in cumulative obesity-related health care costs, the report estimates, if the state was more aggressive in its anti-obesity programs.

The report recommended several policy changes be adopted nationwide to attack obesity, including updating nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages in schools — actions Massachusetts has taken — making physical education and physical activity a priority, and more robust support for healthy nutrition in federal food programs that help low-income families.

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