The study, sponsored by the United Health Foundation, Partnership for Prevention, and American Public Health Association in conjunction with their annual America's Health Rankings, notes that the states most in danger of a ballooning obesity epidemic are: Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Only one state - Colorado - will have an obesity rate under 30 percent, according to the projections, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.
The $344 billion projection on obesity costs would amount to 21 percent of all money spent on health care by 2018, reports Glor. That's up from the 9 percent we spend today. An obese person would spend an average of more than $8,000 a year on medical bills - up nearly $2,500.
The results are based on research by Dr. Ken Thorpe, a health care economist at Emory University.
"At a time when Congress is looking for savings in health care, this data confirms what we already knew: obesity is where the money is," Thorpe said in a press release. "Because obesity is related to the onset of so many other illnesses, stopping the growth of obesity in the U.S. is vital not only to our health - but also to the solvency of our health care system."
Since 1985 obesity levels have doubled, Glor reports. Dr. Louis Arrone says this is the first time we're seeing the size of the bills.
"We now are seeing a veritable tsunami of health care costs all driven by obesity and its complications - diabetes, heart disease, cancer and the more than 50 other illnesses," Dr. Arrone said.
A person is considered obese if they are at least 30 pounds overweight, Glor adds.