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Health Indicator Report of Obesity Among Adults

Adults who are obese are at increased risk of morbidity from hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Only smoking may exceed obesity in contributing to total U.S. mortality rates.
The highest rate of obesity is seen for Pacific Islander adults. The lowest rate is seen for Asian Americans.

Adult Obesity by Race, Utah, 2013


Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or more. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters.   [[br]] [[br]] Age-adjusted to U.S. 2000 standard population with three age groups.

Data Sources

  • Utah Data: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Office of Public Health Assessment, Utah Department of Health
  • U.S. Data: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Division of Behavioral Surveillance, CDC Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services

Data Interpretation Issues

Respondents tend to overestimate their height and underestimate their weight leading to underestimation of BMI and the prevalence of obesity. To reduce bias and more accurately represent population data, the BRFSS has changed survey methodology. In 2010, it began conducting surveys by cellular phone in addition to landline phones. It also adopted "iterative proportional fitting" (raking) as its weighting method. More details about these changes can be found at:


Percentage of respondents aged 18 years and older who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2 calculated from self-reported weight and height.


Number of respondents aged 18 years and older who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2 calculated from self-reported weight and height.


Number of respondents aged 18 years and older for whom BMI can be calculated from their self-reported weight and height (excludes unknowns or refusals for weight and height).

Healthy People Objective NWS-9:

Reduce the proportion of adults who are obese
U.S. Target: 30.6 percent
State Target: 24.0 percent

How Are We Doing?

According to a recent report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Utah has the fifth lowest adult obesity rate in the nation (see The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, September 2014). In just 14 years, the age-adjusted proportion of obese Utah adults increased from 15.8% in 1997 to 24.9% in 2013. While the sampling method changed for 2011 data, this change was still similarly pronounced in the years immediately prior. The highest rates of obesity were seen for adults ages 50 to 64. Age-adjusted rates are used to compare rates for race and local health districts to account for the differences in ages. In 2013, Pacific Islanders (42.5%) had higher rates than the state, while Asians (9.1%) had lower rates than the state. About 27 percent (27.4%) of Hispanic/Latino adults were obese. Tooele and Southeastern Local Health Districts had the highest rates of obesity in the state in 2013 (35.0% and 32.4%, respectively). The lowest rate of obesity was seen for Summit County Local Health District (14.1%) in 2013.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

The age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in Utah adults is slightly lower than the U.S. In 2013, the obesity prevalence rate in Utah adults was 24.9%. The obesity prevalence for U.S. adults in 2013 was 28.2%.

What Is Being Done?

Through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the Healthy Living through Environment, Policy, and Improved Clinical Care Program (EPICC) was established from the consolidation of three programs (Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, and the Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Program) and the addition of one (School Health). This consolidation was designed to assist in the coordination of activities to ensure a productive, collaborative, and efficient program focused on health outcomes. The program aims to reduce the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke by targeting risk factors including reducing obesity, increasing physical activity and nutritious food consumption, and improving diabetes and hypertension control. Housed within the EPICC Program, the Utah Physical Activity and Nutrition Plan (U-PAN) 2010-2020 plan was released April 2010 and addresses the six areas of focus including 1) increase physical activity; 2) increase consumption of fruits and vegetables; 3) decrease the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages; 4) increase breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity; 5) reduce the consumption of high energy dense foods; and 6) decrease television viewing. Implementation of the plan is accomplished through five workgroups: Schools, Childcare, Healthcare, Worksite, and Community. One of EPICC's partners, Utah Partnership for Healthy Weight, a non-profit organization, is focused on bringing informational and financial resources not readily available to state health departments to obesity prevention efforts in Utah. The Partnership works to coordinate the many ongoing and future initiatives within Utah's communities. UDOH staff attend regular meetings of the Partnership and also serve as Partnership board members. Currently, activities are occurring in five main areas: In Schools: (1) The USDA's HealthierUS Challenge helps elementary schools set up policy and environmental supports that make it easier for students and staff to be physically active and eat healthy food. (2) Height and weight trends are being tracked in a sample of elementary students to monitor Utah students. (3) Action for Healthy Kids brings partners together to improve nutrition and physical activity environments in Utah's schools by implementing the school-based state plan strategies, working with local school boards to improve or develop policies for nutritious foods in schools. This includes recommendations for healthy vending options. In Worksites: (1) The Utah Council for Worksite Health Promotion recognizes businesses that offer employee fitness and health promotion programs. (2) The U-PAN worksite workgroup provides toolkits and other resources for employers interested in implementing wellness programs through the website: In the Community: (1) Local health departments (LHDs) receive federal funding to partner with schools, worksites, and other community based organizations to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables through farmers markets and retail stores. LHDs also work with cities within their jurisdictions to create a built environment that encourages physical activity. (2) The EPICC program leads a statewide coalition to implement strategies within the U-PAN state plan. In Healthcare: (1) The Utah Medical Association's Healthy Lifestyles workgroup also serves as the U-PAN Healthcare workgroup. They work to address objectives of the U-PAN State Plan. (2) Several of the U-PAN Healthcare Workgroup objectives involve regularly assessing and counseling for physical activity during patient visits. (3) The EPICC program works with health care systems to establish community clinical linkages to support individuals at risk for or diagnosed with diabetes to engage in lifestyle change programs such as chronic disease self-management. In Childcare: (1) LHDs statewide are implementing the TOP Star program, which aims to improve the nutrition and physical activity environments and achieve best practice in child care centers and homes. (2) EPICC works with state and local partners through the Childcare Obesity Prevention workgroup to implement policy and systems changes in early care and education across agencies statewide.

Evidence-based Practices

The EPICC program promotes evidence based practices collected by the Center TRT. The Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT) bridges the gap between research and practice and supports the efforts of public health practitioners working in nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention by: *Reviewing evidence of public health impact and disseminating population-level interventions; *Designing and providing practice-relevant training both in-person and web-based; *Addressing social determinants of health and health equity through training and translation efforts; and, *Providing guidance on evaluating policies and programs aimed at impacting healthy eating and physical activity. Appropriate evidence based interventions can be found at:

Available Services

Gold Medal School Initiative - for more information, call 801-538-6142 Action for Healthy Kids Local School Policy CD - for more information, call 801-538-6142 A Healthy Worksite Award Program - for more information, visit The Utah Department of Health has established a program, Healthy Living through Environment, Policy and Improved Clinical Care (EPICC). The EPICC website has information on heart disease and stroke prevention on The Utah Department of Health's obesity website located at
Page Content Updated On 10/28/2014, Published on 12/01/2014
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Content updated: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:46:17 MDT