Scope of Obesity Epidemic in Oregon

Obesity has become a national health crisis. According to a 2012 OHA Report, obesity contributes to the deaths of about 1,400 Oregonians each year, making it second only to tobacco as the state’s leading cause of preventable death. Overweight and obesity are also major risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, heart disease and stroke.

  • 60.2% of adult Oregonians were overweight or obese in 2009
  • 121% increase in prevalence of obesity among adult Oregonians between 1990 and 2009
  • 26.6% of Oregon eighth-graders were overweight or obese in 2009
  • 72.5% of adult Oregonians with history of heart attack were overweight or obese in 2009
  • If Oregon remains on this obesity trajectory, children born today will not live as long as their parents or grandparents do
  • In Oregon, medical costs related to obesity among adults were estimated to have reached $1.6 billion in 2006, with $339 million of that paid by Medicare and $333 million paid by Medicaid. In addition, obese persons are estimated to have annual medical costs that are $1,429 higher than non-obese persons

*Data sources are under the links section of this page.

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OMA Policy on Addressing the Obesity Epidemic- Adopted 2004

That OMA undertake a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to address the obesity epidemic among adults and children in Oregon by:

  • educating physicians and the public about prevention and management of overweight and obesity;
  • recognizing that overweight and obesity are both personal and community responsibilities;
  • supporting evidence-based programs for clinical prevention of obesity because of its significant relationship with diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases;
  • urging physicians and patients to maintain a desired weight;
  • supporting social marketing efforts and media outreach directed toward promoting healthful food choices and increased physical activity;
  • collaborating with county medical and specialty societies, and other public and private organizations to promote daily physical activity and healthy, balanced eating by all Oregonians;
  • supporting policies and legislation that promote daily physical activity and healthy eating in Oregon; and
  • convening a task force consisting of members of the Community Health Committee and medical directors of public and private third-party payers to work on the issues of coverage and reimbursement for childhood and adult obesity prevention and treatment.

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OMA’s Involvement

The OMA’s Community Health Committee has determined that obesity is one of their top priorities. They are actively involved in community-based work that is addressing this epidemic. Below is a list of current CHC obesity-focused initiatives:

  • Supporting Environments that Encourage Physical Activity: The OMA is working with other community health organizations to help plan, create and implement Health Impact Assessments. A HIA is a developing concept in the public health arena. HIAs will provide decision makers with information about how any policy, program or project may affect the health of people. They are also intended to elevate health as a key factor to consider in urban planning, with usual parameters of economic, environmental impacts.
  • Educating Oregonians: The OMA works to educate businesses, lawmakers, and citizens on how to further engage health care providers and health insurers in weight management and physical activity, particularly through wellness program participation.
  • Legislative Activities: The OMA has supported legislation on obesity prevention that includes creating a state obesity task force, specifying minimum standards for snacks/entrees sold in schools, requiring the Department of Education to collect data on physical education to award grants for PE teachers and/or in-service projects as well as setting PE standards beginning 2017.

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Tools for Your Practice

The American Medical Association, as part of their Roadmaps for Clinical Practice Series, has a resource that assists physicians in addressing obesity in the primary care setting. This tool includes advice on:

  • evaluating patients for current and potential health risks related to weight—beginning with a measure of the body mass index (BMI);
  • understanding medication and surgical options;
  • improving communication and counseling; and
  • making office environments more accomodating to obese patients.

To view this resource, please visit www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/10931.html.

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Links to Other Resources

Oregon Overweight, Obesity, Physicial Activity and Nutrition Facts, 2012

Oregon Department of Human Services-Physical Activity and Nutrition Program

Trust for America’s Health. F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2011

Public Health Obesity Resources

Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous


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v2 2016