Fat is not where it’s at, according Dr. David Lakey, who recently stepped down as the state health commissioner. Lakey told the House Public Health Committee today that diabetes from obesity currently is costing the state economy $9 billion a year, but he predicted that will grow to $30 billion by 2030.

“We have an obesity crisis in Texas,” Lakey said. Only about a third of the people living in the state have a healthy body weight. He said another third is overweight, while another third is obese. “We’re still not a healthy state. Access to care is part of the answer, but not the entire answer.”

Lakey said the most unhealthy areas of the state are far South Texas along the Mexican border and in Deep East Texas. “Many folks now believe zip code is a bigger predictor of health than genetic code,” Lakey said.

A century ago, he said, disease most likely was the cause of death for a Texas; today, the leading causes of death are chronic illness. Lakey said tobacco use kills about 25,000 Texans every year. Illnesses caused by obesity are second, followed by the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Lakey now is associate vice chancellor for population health at the University of Texas System. His PowerPoint presentation to the committee is here.