(RNN) – I know, I know. We've heard it all before, haven't we? We, as a country are fat, and getting fatter. But this time, the CDC really means it.
Figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday show we are hurtling toward a national health disaster. The 20-year forecast does not look good.
According to recent studies, more than 4 in 10 Americans will be obese in less than 18 years – and that number does not include children.
These figures are expected to add more than $550 billion to health care costs nationwide. Obesity has a direct link to several life-threatening and high-cost illnesses: Heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancer. In men, it can cause erectile dysfunction.
"If nothing is done, this is going to really hinder efforts to control health care costs," study co-author Justin Trogdon of RTI International told the Associated Press.
What should be done about it?
A panel assembled by the Institute of Medicine says it's time for blame and responsibility to shift from the individual to the collective.
It's time to reform farm subsidies, consider a soda tax and institute a large-scale overhaul of how we approach food and nutrition in this country.
"People have heard the advice to eat less and move more for years, and during that time a large number of Americans have become obese," committee member Shiriki Kumanyika of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine told Reuters.
"That advice will never be out of date. But when you see the increase in obesity you ask, what changed? And the answer is, the environment. The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment."
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.