California might have a national reputation as a healthy state, with lower rates of tobacco use, lean sun-tanned bodies on the beach, vibrant retirement communities and bowling leagues for people over age 100.
But, Californians are following the same trend as the rest of the nation with increased weight gain and diabetes cases, according to a report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. In fact nearly six in 10 adults and nearly three in 10 adolescents in the Golden State are overweight or obese. And nearly 8 in 100 adults have diabetes.
The prevalence of obesity among adults increased 19.3% between 2001 and 2007, or from 6.2% to 22.7%, the UCLA researchers say. That translates to six million obese California adults and another 9.3 million are overweight. For adolescents, 13% or 465,000 are obese and another 14%, or 505,000 are overweight.
The burden of diabetes has also grown, from 1.5 million in 2001 to 2 million people in 2007, or from 6.7% of the population to 7.8%. "This is an overall increase of 21% over just six years," the report says.
There is bad news on the cost side for these conditions as well. In California, the cost of diabetes is about $24 billion, with $17 billion spent on direct medical care and $7 billion on indirect costs. The price tag for obesity for families, employers, the healthcare industry and the government "is equally steep: $21 billion," the report says.
What may make the problem even more severe is that like other states, these conditions tend to be more common among Latinos and African Americans and American Indians compared with whites, a disparity range that increases as these ethnic populations get older.