MaineHealth remains focused on partnering with organizations to make clinical, policy and environmental changes that will help children, youth and adults eat healthy and be physically active.
Why does MaineHealth focus on decreasing obesity?
- Obesity plays a causal role in heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and certain cancers.
- In the MaineHealth service area, 30% of adults had obesity in 2016.
- 20% of adults in the MaineHealth service area reported no physical activity or exercise outside of work in the last 30 days.
- 15% of Maine high school and middle school students had obesity in 2017.
We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help decrease obesity throughout the MaineHealth service area. Here are some of the ways that MaineHealth and our partners are responding:
The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to decrease obesity. In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set bold, aggressive targets for two of these measures as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue achieving positive steps toward the MaineHealth vision.
Short-term obesity measure and target:
- By September 30, 2018, 80% or more of MaineHealth family and internal medicine practices using EPIC Electronic Health Record will complete training on adult obesity standards of care and 50% or more will implement components of Standard of Care in their practices.
Long-term obesity measure and target
- By 2020, 26% or less of adults in the MaineHealth service area will have obesity (indicated by a Body Mass Index ≥30.0).
In 2017, the Small Steps program increased the number of adult primary care practice teams trained on the new adult obesity standard of care. Implementing Small Steps protocols requires primary care practices to be knowledgeable about healthy eating and active living messages, follow clinical and administrative workflow procedures that support the assessment of lifestyle habits, be comfortable initiating compassionate conversations around a specific healthy eating or active living goal and develop and document a follow up plan for patients. As of the end of 2018, 87% of clinical teams at adult primary care practices were trained in the standard of care for adults with obesity, exceeding the target of 80%.
In recent years, rates of adult obesity in Maine and the MaineHealth service area have begun to stabilize. Having stable rates over time can be viewed as an intermediate step toward the ultimate goal of decreasing obesity. In 2020, the adult obesity rate was 31.0% and during 2012-2014 ranged from 28.2% to 30%; there were no statistically significant increases or decreases during this period.
Across the United States, the South tends to have the highest percentage of obese youth while states near the Rocky Mountains tend to have the lowest. Maine has the highest rate of youth obesity in New England.
Although the rate of increase in youth obesity has been stabilizing, 15% of middle school and high school students have obesity.
Although 70% of adults get some physical activity each month, only about half of adults meet the CDC guideline of 150 minutes or more of aerobic activity and less than one third meet the strength training recommended level of twice per week.