As the obesity epidemic continues to escalate, a new study projects that half of the U.S. will be obese by 2030 unless measures to stifle, monitor and prevent obesity are adopted into public policy.

Currently, one in three American adults is obese, with 99 million cases reported. According to a new study published in The Lancet, obesity is projected to include half of the U.S. population by 2030 if current trends continue.

While forecasts show that obesity is on the rise, researchers from Columbia University used data from the past four decades with qualitative trends taken into account. The study showed that 164 million Americans will be obese within the next two decades along with an additional 8 million cases of diabetes, 6.8 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and a half-million cases of cancer to be reported.

At the rate we're looking at right now, it's a dire prediction, Claire Wang, of Columbia University, told ABC.

The U.S. health care system as a whole will be affected by the obesity epidemic, as well, which Wang estimates could cost an additional $66 billion.

It's not only a problem of well-being, it's a financial burden, Wang told ABC. It's both a public health issue and a health services issue for the states. Our health care system is already struggling with resource constraints.

Who Is to Blame?

The obesity epidemic does not come as a surprise as the food industry shifts to cheaper, processed foods, heavily marketed to the public. The mass marketing has created a public unaware of the effects of overconsumption and does not encourage maintaining a healthy weight, according to the study.

Wang and her colleagues noted in the study that although evidence shows intervention is effective for preventing obesity, there have been no public health measures yet addressing rising obesity rates.

The study states that governments have neglected responsibility to respond to rising obesity rates and unless preventative and regulative measures for obesity are implemented, the rate will rise to the projections outlined in the study.

However, Wang identified some cost-effective, and cost-saving, actions for researching, monitoring and regulating obesity.

The changes came largely from the supply-side, ranging from lessening the cost of healthy food, taxing unhealthy foods like candy and soda and marketing healthy eating habits rather than high fat foods.

Leadership from governments, organizations and the private sector to provide awareness of the rising obesity rate along with prevention plans was included in the outline, as well. The researchers offered that coordination could double the efforts for preventing obesity.

The strategic release of the study in The Lancet was published Thursday to prompt the attention to the United Nations General Assembly, which will meet in Sept.

How to Calculate Your BMI

Many people, who feel that they maintain a healthy weight, do not realize that they are in fact considered overweight or nearing obesity.

Body mass index (BMI) is the determining factor for assessing weight, based on height and weight. There are separate mathematical formulas for calculating in kilograms (kg) and pounds (lb) and for meters (m) and feet (ft).

After the calculation, the number determines which BMI category a person belongs to. The categories include:

Underweight: <18.5

Normal Weight: 18.5-24.9

Overweight: 25-29.9

Obese: 30 and over

While it is always best to speak with a doctor to determine BMI or before changing lifestyle habits, many charts and online BMI calculators can give an overlook of and individual's BMI.

BMI is only one measure of health, according to WebMD, which says that some individuals may be considered overweight even if they eat healthy and exercise regularly.

Here are some online BMI calculators to consider:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Stanford Hospital and Clinics


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)