As many as two-thirds of Oklahomans may be obese by 2030, according to a report released Tuesday.
The report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012,” projects an increase from Oklahoma's current obesity rate of 31.1 percent to 66.4 percent in less than 20 years.
Oklahoma ranked second-worst among the states in the 2030 obesity-rate projections, with 66.7 percent of Mississippi residents estimated to be obese by that time.
The report also projects increases in Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension, arthritis and obesity-related cancers.
But it suggests that obesity-related health care costs in Oklahoma could climb 10.8 percent by 2030.
Dr. Teri Bourdeau, clinical associate professor of behavior at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, said the report is in line with other research in the area of obesity.
A change in culture is part of the reason more people are becoming overweight. Children and adults are spending more time in front of a screen than being active, she said.
“We all sit a lot,” she said. “We don't walk on a farm. We don't walk our land.”
The report states that if Oklahomans lowered their body mass indexes — BMIs — by 5 percent, the state could save 7.2 percent in health care costs and save thousands of people from preventable diseases.
Bourdeau said that change is possible. Small changes at the community level can have a big effect.
“It's about the family,” she said. “It's about the culture.”
Oklahoma has an obvious problem, but some current programs could change the trajectory and put the state on a healthier path, said Keith Reed, director for the Center for the Advancement of Wellness at the state Health Department.
“I anticipate that this will not come to fruition,” he said of the report's projection.
“First we're going to have to slow the trend,” Reed said. “Then we're going to have to stop it. Then we're going to have to reverse it.”
One current program recognizes certain communities, businesses and schools as certified healthy places. Some communities have worked at a grassroots level to make healthy choices easier choices, Reed said.
The report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recommends updating nutrition standards for snacks and beverages in schools and including physical activity in schools, among other ideas.
“We know how to prevent this,” Trust for America's Health Executive Director Jeff Levi said in a conference call with reporters.
“We know how to reverse this course.”