Overweight and Obesity
of Idaho adults have obesity
of Idaho adults are overweight or have obesity
of Idaho youth age 10-17 have obesity
OBESITY AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Idaho, like most states, is seeing a steady increase in the percentage of its population that is overweight or obese. According to the Idaho Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the percentage of Idaho adults aged 18 and older who report having obesity has increased from 20.5 percent in 2001 to 31.6 percent in 2021.
Idaho youth are also experiencing increased obesity rates. In 2021, 28.1 percent of Idaho high school students described themselves as slightly or very overweight, and 11.9 percent were obese (Youth Risk Behavior Survey).(1) When looking at population groups in Idaho, those who are Hispanic, Latino, American Indian and Alaskan Native experience the highest rates of obesity. Rates also vary by location and county. In 2020, Shoshone county had an estimated obesity rate of 40 percent while the rate was 27 percent for people living in Valley and Blaine counties.(2)
Upstream socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health, such as poverty, housing, education, food access and healthcare access, can systematically influence individual behaviors that have an impact on weight and associated health outcomes. Obesity and overweight are important to address due to increased risk of co-morbid chronic conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and some cancers. Most importantly, these health issues are largely manageable and preventable when people are supported by community environments, systems and policies that promote health and well-being.
The State of Childhood Obesity Report, released in November 2022, critiques an over-reliance on Body Mass Index (BMI), “when we use BMI to put large-bodied people, including children, into categories of “obese” or “overweight,” we inadvertently activate weight-based stigma. This can cause lasting psychological trauma in kids – manifested through low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, isolation and eating disorders – which in turn contributes to poor health outcomes.” The report goes on to suggest new approaches to measuring health with consideration for nutritional adequacy, upstream factors affecting food supply, nutritional assistance and indicators of food quality and availability. The COVID-19 pandemic was a stark reminder that low-income families, those who quit or lost jobs, and children who rely on school meal programs faced challenges accessing healthy food. Income and food insecurity are significant contributing factors in rising obesity rates.(3)
RISK REDUCTION STRATEGIES
All levels of government can play a role in prioritizing health, improving equity and reducing health disparities. Sustained and impactful policies, systems, and environmental strategies should take place where children live, learn, and play, such as healthier childcare settings, schools, and communities.(4)
The Idaho Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) Program, housed within the Division of Public Health, works with local public health districts and community partners on obesity prevention initiatives that make healthy choices easier. These initiatives include childhood obesity prevention in Early Care and Education (ECE), nutrition and physical activity in schools, worksite wellness and food insecurity.
The Idaho Physical Activity and Nutrition Program (IPAN) is working with the following partners to support obesity prevention efforts statewide:
Local public health districts
Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) Idaho Network
Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force
Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program
2021 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, September 2022. Idaho Department of Education. Accessed January 30, 2023. Retrieved from: https://www.sde.idaho.gov/student-engagement/school-health/files/youth/Youth-Risk-Behavior-Survey-Results-2021.pdf
2023 County Health Rankings Idaho Data Sourced from 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
State of Childhood Obesity Report: Meeting the Moment, Learning from Leaders at the Forefront of Change. November 2022. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Accessed January 30, 2023. Retrieved from: Meeting the Moment:ange Learning From Leaders at the Forefront of Ch (stateofchildhoodobesity.org)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online]. 2015. [accessed Sep 02, 2020]. URL: https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/brfssprevalence/