Obesity Prevention

Obesity Prevention

parents and children, happy smiling hispanic familyThere is no shortage of information on the topic of obesity, but how do we separate fact from fiction?  Which interventions will have the greatest desired and lasting impact?

The information below is designed help readers gain a basic understanding of the problem, the scale of the epidemic in Lane County, and the community level solutions recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Obesity: Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher (BMI ≥30, or ~ 30 lbs. overweight for 5’ 4” person).  A condition in which excess fat has accumulated to the extent that it may negatively impact on one’s health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.

Body Mass Index (BMI): A measure of an adult’s weight in relation to his or her height, specifically the adult’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his or her height in meters.

Health Impacts

Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Obesity in Lane County


In Lane County, more than 1 in 4 people over 18 are obese (26.5%) this amounts to about 70,000 people.  Another 34% of the adult population is overweight leaving more than 160,000 people in Lane County overweight or obese.  This number exceeds the population of the City of Eugene.

Source: Oregon BRFSS County Combined Dataset 2008-2011


Nearly 11% of Lane County 8th graders are obese.   Between 2008 and 2013, there was about an 8% increase in obesity in this population (increase to 10.7 percent from 9.9%).  Another 16% of our 8th graders are overweight, putting them at increased risk for obesity in the future.

More than 13% of Lane County 11th graders are obese.  Over the last five years, there was more than a 16% increase in obesity among Lane County 11th graders (increase to 13.2% from 11.3%).  Another 15% of our 11th graders are overweight.

Source: Oregon Healthy Teens Survey for 2008 and 2013 school years

Healthy Food

Only about 1 in 4 Lane County adults consume the recommended 5 or more of servings of fruits and vegetables daily

Source: Oregon BRFSS County Combined Dataset 2006-2009

Physical Activity

Four of ten Lane County adults do not meet CDC minimum recommendations for physical activity (150 minutes/week)

Source: Oregon BRFSS County Combined Dataset 2008-2011

Target Behaviors for Change

The CDC focuses on six target behaviors for the prevention of obesity and other chronic conditions:

  1. Increase physical activity
  2. Increase consumptions of fruits and vegetables
  3. Increase breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity
  4. Decrease consumption of sugar sweetened beverages
  5. Decrease consumption of high energy dense, nutrient poor, foods
  6. Decrease television viewing

But we know that changing individual behavior, while important, is not enough. The scope of the problem and our limited resources mean we will have greater impact by changing the environments and conditions to make healthy choices easier for everyone.

Public health policies to help reduce obesity

CDC Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity