Galveston, TX—Obesity is emptying Texans’ pocketbooks and could cost the state its future—especially among young Hispanics, said the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), which is launching a national campaign in Galveston to reduce obesity among Hispanics.
By 2040, Texas will have 14 million obese adults, up from 4 million today, twice as many overweight residents and nearly 3.5 million people with diabetes, up from 1 million. The cost of treating obesity will quadruple—from $10.5 billion today to 40 billion by 2040. In addition, the state’s share of Medicaid will nearly triple, to $12.3 billion.
“The fatter the population gets the bigger the problems will become and the more it will cost to solve them,” said Dr. Elena Rios, president of NHMA, a nonprofit organization representing licensed Hispanic physicians in the U.S.
In Texas, one in four Hispanic children is obese, vs. one in 10 non-Hispanic white children. Two in three adult Texans are overweight or obese—contributing to the state being one of the fattest in the nation. Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and Fort Worth are among the top 15 fattest cities in the country.
“Racial minorities, especially Hispanics, are disproportionately poor and undereducated and therefore suffer more health problems and die younger than other Americans,” Rios said. “A prevalence of cheap fast-food, a lack of safe areas to exercise in their neighborhoods and fatty diets contribute to Hispanics’ increasing waistlines.” Cultural trends—video games, TV and junk food among them—also contribute to the problem.