DefinitionPercentage of adults 18 years of age and older who are obese as defined by a body mass index (BMI) of >=30.0 as computed by the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/default.aspx Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)]. BMI is calculated as self-reported weight ("About how much do you weigh without shoes?") in kilograms divided by self-reported height ("About how tall are you without shoes?") in meters squared.
NumeratorWeighted number of adults (18+) who have a BMI of >=30.0 calculated from self-reported weight ("About how much do you weigh without shoes?") and height ("About how tall are you without shoes?") on the BRFSS, excluding women who are pregnant and biologically implausible values.
DenominatorWeighted number of adults (18+) for whom BMI can be calculated from their self-reported weight and height on the BRFSS, excluding women who are pregnant, biologically implausible values, or "Do not know/Not Sure" or "Refused" responses.
Data Interpretation IssuesPost-stratification weights were used for Alaska prior to 2006; raking weights were used from 2007 onward. For more on this methodological change see: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/method.aspx].
Alaska data were obtained from the Standard BRFSS from 1991-2003, and from the Standard and Supplemental BRFSS surveys combined from 2004 onward. The Supplemental BRFSS survey is conducted using identical methodology as the Standard BRFSS and allows a doubling of the BRFSS sample size for those measures included in both surveys.
Alaska Native people in analyses of the BRFSS refers to any mention of American Indian or Alaska Native heritage when enumerating racial and ethnic background. Individuals who indicate multiple races including American Indian/Alaska Native are considered Alaska Native in the data. When race and ethnicity are considered concurrently, Hispanic individuals with American Indian/Alaska Native heritage are combined into the Alaska Native (any mention) group and removed from the Hispanic class.
This definition of the Alaska Native group is intended to conform to the eligibility requirements for access to Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium health care services.
Why Is This Important?Leading health officials state that obesity is the predominant public health threat of our lifetimes.^1^ If obesity rates aren't stabilized and reversed, the medical care costs associated with treating obesity-related chronic disease will threaten the government's ability to fund Medicare and Medicaid.
Obesity and overweight are determined by calculating Body Mass Index (BMI) from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people, and it is used to screen for weight categories that increase the risk of health problems.
Obesity is expected to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death.^3^ It already surpasses tobacco in estimates of annual medical costs in Alaska ($459 million vs. $318 million).^4^ Alaska's obesity-related Medicaid costs will be $684 million annually by 2030 if rates continue as predicted.^2^ The responsibility for this dramatic change in our state's population is both personal and societal. Government is already invested by paying the medical costs related to the chronic disease consequences associated with obesity in an ever-rising Medicaid budget.
Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and some types of cancer. It also negatively affects physical performance, life expectancy, and quality of life.^5^ Due to obesity, this generation of children is predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.^6^[[br]]
1. State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Press Release. June 25, 2012. [http://dhss.alaska.gov/News/Documents/press/2012/ASDObesityPrevalence_PR_06252012.pdf]
2. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, 2011. Alaska Obesity Prevention and Control Program: 2010-2011 Status Report. Accessed at [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Documents/Obesity/pubs/10-11ObesityStatus_web.pdf]. November 22, 2017.
3. Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, Gerberding JL. (2004) Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004;291(10):1238-1245. doi:10.1001/jama.291.10.1238.
4. Trogdon JG, Finkelstein EA, Feagan CW, Cohen JW. State- and Payer-Specific Estimates of Annual Medical Expenditures Attributable to Obesity. Obesity 2012;20(1):214-20.
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity 2001. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44206/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK44206.pdf]. Published 2001. Accessed October 12, 2016.
6. Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, et al. A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century. N Engl J Med 2005;352(11):1138-45.
Other ObjectivesHealthy Alaskans 2020 Indicator: Reduce the percentage of adults (age 18 years and older) who meet criteria for obesity (body mass index of >=30 kg/(m*m)) to 27% by 2020.
Healthy People Objective NWS-9:
Reduce the proportion of adults who are obese
U.S. Target: 30.5% as measured by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for adults 20 years of age and older.
The Healthy People objective for adult obesity based upon clinical examination of height and weight cannot be matched by the self-reported measures obtained by the BRFSS. The definition of adult also differs between the two surveillance systems with NHANES using individuals who are 20 years of age and older and the BRFSS defining adults as individuals who are 18 years of age and older.
How Are We Doing?The percentage of Alaska adults who are obese has increased over the past 27 years, more than doubling since 1991 (13.4%). Since 2016, the prevalence of obesity among Alaska adults has exceeded 30%.
Additional statistics on obesity burden are available at: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/Obesity/resources.aspx].
Prevalence rates for obesity from the BRFSS are initially presented for all Alaskans, Alaska Native people, and the median from states, District of Columbia, and territories for all available years. Subsequent analyses by demographic subpopulations (i.e., sex, age, race/ethnicity, ethnicity, marital status, education, employment status, income, and Medicaid eligibility) are limited to 2010 and later to allow for ease in assessing recent trends.
The rates of obesity by regions of Alaska are presented for the most recent time period allowing reporting for all Alaskans and Alaska Native people: 1) single-year for the 7 Alaska Public Health Regions, 2) single-year for the 11 behavioral health assessment regions based upon aggregations of 20,000 population, and 3) five-year averages for the 12 tribal health organization regions. These time intervals match those for the InstantAtlas health profiles for each of the geographic regionalizes of Alaska for those desiring longer time series.
What Is Being Done?The goal of the Physical Activity and Nutrition unit is to help Alaskans prevent and manage chronic diseases with regular physical activity and nutritious eating. Our work includes:
[[br]]a) Helping young Alaskans grow up healthy by improving physical activity and nutrition in schools and child care programs;
[[br]]b) Ensuring families receive support to start and continue breastfeeding their babies;
[[br]]c) Building a healthy labor force by improving the availability of healthy foods and drinks in workplaces;
[[br]]d) Connecting Alaskans to the places they live, learn, shop and work by promoting activity-friendly routes; and
[[br]]e) Educating the public through the Play Every Day campaign on ways to choose healthy foods and drinks and be physically active.