(CBS) Think Americans are fat now? By 2030, half of Americans will be obese - more than 164 million people, according to a new report. That's up from 99 million today.
Shelling out for bigger pants and skirts won't be the only cost of this increase. This uptick will also likely increase the rates of obesity-related diseases by 2030 to almost 8 million new cases of diabetes, 7 million new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 500,000 new cancer cases.
The findings are part of a special report in the August 26 issue of The Lancet.
"Our projections find that rising obesity is going to result in increases in many of these chronic diseases which are disabling and expensive to treat," study author Dr. Claire Wang, professor of health policy and management at Columbia University in N.Y., told WebMD during a London press conference. "We have to act fast."
Besides saving lives, slowing this growing epidemic can also save lots of dollars. The study estimates U.S. spending on obesity-related problems will increase up to 16 percent per year if this trend continues. By 2030, the report found, healthcare spending on obesity-related ailments would increase a whopping 66 billion dollars per year.
The good news?
Even modest weight reductions can have a dramatic effect, according to Wang. If the U.S. population dropped their body mass index level by as little as 1 percent, up to 2.4 million cases of diabetes, and 2 million cases of heart attack and stroke could be prevented.
The CDC has more on the obesity epidemic.