UGA launches Obesity Initiative
More than 65 percent of adults in the state of Georgia are overweight or obese, and 40 percent of children are overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The steady increase of overweight infants – under 11 months old – also is cause for alarm.
The related health consequences and costs are equally staggering. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, costing the state an estimated $2.4 billion annually – the equivalent of $250 per Georgian each year – in direct health care costs and lost productivity from disease, disability and death, according to the CDC. People who are obese have average annual medical expenses more than $1,400 higher than those who aren’t overweight.
To address this problem, the University of Georgia has brought together more than 100 faculty from a variety of disciplines to form the Obesity Initiative. Through the initiative, launched in January, researchers will develop programs that can be implemented in Georgia communities. GRA Eminent Scholar Clifton Baile is leading the initiative. According to Baile, more and more obese children are being treated for diseases usually found in adults, such as Type 2 diabetes. “It’s not a good way to start life,” Baile said.