A startling statistic: at the current pace, high obesity rates will have spread to at least half of Americans in 39 states by 2030, according to a joint report out today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.

"With 6 million new cases of diabetes, 5 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next 20 years," Dr. Jeffery Levi, study author and executive director of Trust for America's Health, told ABC News, "we are on a tragic course that will have a horrible impact on the quality of life of millions of Americans and could overwhelm an already over burdened health care system."

The experts predicted the consequences of this upward obesity trend on individual states, CNN reported, noting that the results of the research were drawn from previously published government data.

The study, called "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012," projected that the health of the country — and the money put toward the health care system — would benefit from even a 5 percent reduction in the average body mass index, CNN reported.

The national obesity rate will grow from 35.7 percent to 42 percent, according to CDC.

Mississippi is in the most danger, the Atlantic reported. "If nothing changes in the next 20 years, just over two-thirds of its population would be obese, contributing to national obesity-related health-care costs of between $147 billion and $210 billion a year, and lost annual productivity to the tune of up to $580 billion."

Comment on this story

"If we could reduce the average adult BMI (body mass index) and thus lower obesity trends by a mere 5 percent in each state, we could save billions of dollars in health spending — up to nearly 8 percent in costs in almost every state — and spare millions of Americans from serious health problems," the study authors wrote.

"Obviously, any long-term projection that presumes the stability of current trends tells us only so much," the Atlantic reported. "A lot can change in 20 years, and much is afoot to change it. But one of the necessary preconditions for progress is a good grasp on the magnitude of the challenge before us."

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at rachel.lowry@gmail.com or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.