Report foresees half of Illinoisans becoming obese

Report foresees half of Illinoisans becoming obese

UPDATED 9:20 p.m. Tuesday

CHAMPAIGN — More than half of Illinois residents could be obese by 2030 if current trends continue, a new report Tuesday projects.

The annual "F as in Fat report" released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health predicts Illinois' current obesity rate of 27.1 percent could continue to grow over the next 18 years to 53.7 percent.

Along with it, health care costs in Illinois could rise by as much as 16.1 percent, researchers projected.

Behind those added costs would be more obesity-related illnesses. Those diseases could climb in Illinois over the next 20 years, the report predicts, with obesity contributing to:

— About 1.5 million new cases of diabetes.

— About 3.2 million new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke.

— 3.1 million new cases of hypertension, or high blood pressure.

— 2 million new cases of arthritis.

— 468,312 new cases of obesity-related cancers.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde said she wasn't surprised by the projection.

"That's exactly what we're trying to prevent," she said. "We certainly can't have an impact everywhere, but the one place we can is in Champaign County."

Helping to trim down current obesity and prevent more obesity from developing in the local population are major activities of C-U Fit Families and the latest community health initiative the local health district is leading with the help of a state We Choose Health grant, Pryde said.

Kids spend most of their time at school and adults spend most of their time at work, she said, so two components of the We Choose Health initiative will focus on workplace wellness and expanding the Coordinated Approach To Child Health — called CATCH — to all Champaign County schools, to get kids moving more and teach them how to eat healthier.

"We want to start with the kids and reverse those numbers," Pryde said.

One-third of U.S. children are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The community health plan will also be used to help expand smoke-free zones in the community.

C-U Fit Families member Marian Huhman, a University of Illinois communications professor formerly with the CDC, said the fit families group is focusing on childhood obesity because obese kids are likely to be the adults with obesity problems down the road.

The group is focusing on building healthier habits in young people and getting families involved through such activities as safe routes to school, community gardening and bicycle safety, she said.

"The (We Choose Health) grant will really catapult this community into some specific actions," she said.

This year's "F as in Fat" report, which used 2011 obesity rates from the CDC, ranked Mississippi the fattest state in the nation with an obesity rate of 34.9 percent, and Colorado the slimmest state with an obesity rate of 20.7 percent.

Illinois ranked near the middle at 29th.

The report also suggested reducing weight by just a little could have a big effect on health care costs. If Illinoisans reduced their body mass indexes (a ratio of height to weight) by 5 percent, the cumulative savings in health care costs in the state would be 7.5 percent, or $28.1 billion by 2030, the authors projected. For someone 6 feet tall who weighs 200 pounds, that would require about a 10-pound weight loss, they said.

The report is available online at

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vcponsardin wrote on September 18, 2012 at 9:09 am

Sheesh.  From what I can tell just looking around town, we're already at 50% obesity in this part of the state...

CULater wrote on September 18, 2012 at 10:09 am

A lot of talk about problems and no talk about solutions. Kids need more active time in school and parents need more education on maintaining active lifestyles.

rsp wrote on September 18, 2012 at 11:09 am

No recess and less time in physical education are our priorities. So we can save money. Then we have lots of video games so the kids don't have to go out to play and we can have quality family time sitting on the couch. What's the big issue in New York? Buying super-sized drinks. A large used to be 12 ounces with 140 calories. A 7-eleven double gulp has 744 calories.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on September 20, 2012 at 9:09 am
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I remember my early years at Leal. Lunch was at noon, and we had an hour. So we ate at a reasonable pace, and then went out to work it off on the playground. Very civilized.


That changed in my later years. By the time I started at UJHS (1983) the first lunch period was 10:49am and we had nearly enough time to stand in line, get our tray, and scarf it down before the bell sounded. Maybe 25 minutes total?

Utowner wrote on September 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

It is time that we tax fast-food/junk food for the tax it is putting on our healthcare system.  I'm not telling you what you can and can't eat, just making it more costly like it is more costly for me to now enjoy my 6 cigarettes a day.  We must strongly examine the ironic link between poverty and obesity.  Our current SNAP program allows recipients to buy convenience and snack foods that are void of any nutritional value.  We, as taxpayers, are funding the cause of the obesity epidemic and then funding the maintenance burden that is placed on the healthcare sector by the same individuals.  Don't think that people haven't tried to stop this madness, they have, only to be steamrolled by big food companies who don't want their market to disappear.  They know these foods, that are the most available type of food to the urban poor, don't comprise a profitable percentage of middle and high income earners diet and that losing this market would wreck their profits.  


We need to remove any type of tax on fresh vegetables, unprocessed meat/seafood/poultry, and dairy. Want to start economic recovery in the Midwest?  Encourage small farms to again produce these goods locally and SUBSIDIZE them.  You would be amazed with what 5 acres and 4 people can produce!  Imagine the benefits in the economy and the health of the population in the region.  If we can subsidize manufacturing and large scale farming, why not small scale food production?

Fix the food supply first and then we are more able to address the issues we face regarding our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Mel1971 wrote on September 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm

The way things are going in this state nobody will be able to afford over eating. This kind of reporting always makes me laugh. In this state as far as welfare benifits are concerned they restrict so much anymore because they are in debt that you can't do anything. We as tax payers in th is state need to get up and start demanding the state officials to fix it or get the hell out and let someone who can do it.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Must be part of that group that Mitt Romney got caught talking about.  Although, it may not be.  New Jersey must have Illinois beat based on the way Chris Christie looks.  Perhaps; fat people should be required to pay more in taxes, or do community service?  More public scorn would get them in shape.  After that project is accomplished, something can be done about all of those red headed people.  The real problem is short people.  They are behind everything.  They should be looked down upon.  

Champaign-Urbana Public Hea... wrote on September 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

One of the programs that has worked well in schools is CATCH, Coordinated Approach to Child Health.  Carrie Busey, Fisher, adn other schools in Champaign County have used it and loved it!  The kids, teachers, and parents report that they like it too!

C-U Fit Families is a coalition of individuals and local organizations working together to promote childhhood wellness in our community.  Our four areas of interest are:  Active Living, Food Advertising and Marketing, Shared Family Meals, and Access to Healthy Foods at Home and at School.

We Choose Health:  Champaign County



Champaign-Urbana Public Hea... wrote on September 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm


I am writing in response to the News Gazette editorial titled, “State Grants don’t Grant Wishes”, regarding the “We Choose Health” grant that Champaign-Urbana Public Health District obtained for our community.  The grant’s activities apparently hit a personal nerve at the News Gazette. The work of public health often involves working to change entrenched behaviors that are very personal and have strong feelings associated with them.  After starting my career in the field of public health working with HIV/AIDS, I am used to addressing such strong and negative reactions.  It goes with the job.  With that said, I do not allow misinformation to go unchallenged.

I think the News Gazette is misusing the word “irony”.  “Illinois is broke, but not so broke that it can’t lavish nearly $212,000 on a set of programs in one county in a state with 102 counties.  That’s real money being spent in a state that doesn’t pay its bills.” It is most definitely a fact that the State of Illinois is broke and not paying its bills on time.  Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and many other service providers in our state have essentially been providing interest-free, compulsory loans to the State of Illinois for several years. 

            While yes, the state is broke, it is not lavishing its money on Champaign County.  In fact, according to the May 11, 2012 article in the News Gazette titled, “State Funding Projects that Boost Health”, the grant money clearly comes federal funds.  The State of Illinois is not putting money into this effort. The Illinois Department of Public Health applied to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for, and was awarded, a $25 million Community Transformation Grant.  The money is specifically an attempt to slow the exponential rise in persons suffering from preventable chronic diseases and their associated morbidity.  To put this another way—the grant funds are to be used to prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and the other preventable illnesses linked to smoking and obesity, thus saving real money in healthcare dollars and disability.

            Additionally, while the editorial implied that funds were being spent exclusively in Champaign County “in a state with 102 counties”, IDPH actually awarded almost $3.5 million in “We Choose Health” grants to 21 grantees, covering 60 Illinois counties and impacting an estimated 3 million people.  Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, and Kane

Counties were ineligible to apply.  That is 60 counties out of an eligible 97 counties that will be benefiting from this program. This information is available on IDPH’s website as well as in their press release.

            Part of the reason why the Illinois government is so broke is the crushing debt associated with Medicaid.  Approximately 25% of the Illinois State Budget is spent on Medicaid program spending (Illinois Institute for Fiscal Sustainability).  Certainly some of the Medicaid dollars that are spent in Illinois are spent caring for persons with smoking and obesity-related, preventable illnesses.  The epidemiology of diabetes is compelling.  Obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity are related to the development of Type II diabetes and the increase in diabetes-related complications of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, blindness and lower-extremity amputation.  These are all complications that have staggering lifetime medical costs associated with them.  This says nothing of the burdens on individuals and families, including disability, depression, lost wages, and increased costs associated with care

If we are to look at this $212,000 grant from a strictly economic standpoint, it is clear that if CUPHD and our community partners are able to prevent even 4 or 5 children from developing Type II diabetes each year, the CDC will have invested wisely.  If it can be conservatively estimated that the lifetime costs for care of diabetes and the associated complications are $50,000 per person, the savings are obvious.  It will be more difficult to prove to the naysayers that prevention has occurred.  Success at prevention is not immediately obvious and may not be realized until later when we start to see a decrease in obesity rates and diabetes diagnoses. 

The editorial admits that “obesity is a problem, and clearly there is a solution.  People should eat less, eat better and exercise more”.  On that point we certainly agree. That is exactly what CUPHD and our community partners are working hard to do.  Through our efforts and partnerships with other, “busybodies” such as schools, small businesses, churches, religious organizations, community groups, government agencies, neighborhood associations and motivated individuals, we will continue to work to make the above-mentioned goals a reality.  This will be an uphill battle as I am certain that we will be fighting against well-funded forces that would like to see these interventions halted.  The sugar-sweetened beverage companies, some fast-food franchises, sweetened cereal companies, and junk food peddlers do not always have the same goals as public health.  This is reminiscent of the battles with the tobacco industry.  Through tireless efforts we made headway in that public health crisis, and we will make headway in reversing the obesity epidemic.

The one fact from the editorial that is indisputable is that “local public health officials were crowing”.  Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has a long and proud 75 year history of being innovative, hard-working, and taking on tough issues.  We have a history of creating long-standing partnerships that make real differences in people’s lives.  We have great success in bringing state, federal, and private funding to our community to supplement our modest revenues from local, capped real estate taxes.  We do this through collaboration, cooperation, and application of evidence-based practice.  While we have no plans to change what we do, it is unlikely that the crowing will stop anytime soon.

Julie A. Pryde, Administrator, C-U Public Health District

Orbiter wrote on September 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Obesity is not a problem, it is the outcome, and is itself a symptom of one or more problems.  Unfortunately, identifying that problem is not as simple as people would make it sound.  It's not just accessibility to quality food, it's not just exercise, it's not just laziness, it's not simply self-indulgence or a lack of self control.  Surely some of these elements are part of the overall picture, but there may well be other factors at work, such as:

air pollution (contributing to asthma, leading to an inability to excersise);

climate control in homes & workplaces;

poor city planning which makes travel hostile to pedestrians and bicycles, thus requiring autos (look around and see how few new neighborhoods even have sidewalks);

poor zoning which prohibits people from living near enough to their workplaces to walk there;

poor healthcare, leading to increased illness and sedentary behavior;

lack of parks and play areas near home for children to keep them active and moving;

lack of healthful food at restaurants (even in champaign/urbana);

Usage of increasing quantities of spices and salt and flavor/aroma-ehancers in pre-packaged foods (because of free-market competition among producers) which can over-ride the normal feelings of satiation, leading to over-eating;

Modern-day convenience of shopping malls and centres, such that a person need not walk far to obtain sustinence and other goods;

and on and on and on.

rsp wrote on September 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm

One of my favorites- watch any children's show and count how many times they make "jokes" about vegetables being bad. Start counting the times you see it in other shows. Now think about it from a child's perspective, aren't we really sending a confusing message? Just because the writers are too lazy to come up with new material? And It's in books too.