Promoting and protecting the health and safety of all Idahoans

Overweight and Obesity in Idaho

Weight management, weight loss, and the increase in overweight and obesity are primary health concerns for adults, children, and youth in the United States.  There are many reasons that contribute to the increase in overweight and obesity which make it a difficult subject to address. Behavior, environment, genetics, and access to health care are all factors that play a role in one's weight and general health outcomes. The ability to make healthy choices and lead a healthy lifestyle greatly decreases a person's risk of developing chronic disease.

Adult Obesity in Idaho:

Current adult obesity rate (2013)




Obesity rate by gender (2012)

Men      26.9%
Women  26.2%

Rank among states (2013)




Obesity rate by age (2013)

18-25    15.9%
  26-44    28.2%
45-64    33.1%
65+      27.1%

Idaho adult obesity rate in 1990




Obesity rate by race (2013)

White   26.8%
Latino   35.3%

2013 rates of obesity among U.S. adults report more than one-third (34.9%) are obese. Overweight and obese adults account for 68.5% of the adult population. 

In addition, more than 82% of Idaho adults did not eat the minimum recommended 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables each day and more than 21% of adults did not participate in any leisure time activity (2011 Idaho BRFSS). 

A 2008-09 school year BMI assessment of Idaho students in all odd grades 1 through 11 found that overall, 30.5% of Idaho school children sampled were classified as overweight or obese. The study found that significantly more boys were obese than girls.

Based on results of the 2011/12 Idaho 3rd Grade BMI Assessment and the 2011 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, there are an estimated 6,200 (29%) overweight or obese 3rd grade students and 17,700 (23%) overweight or obese high school students (grades 9 through 12) in Idaho.

U.S. medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion. Annual medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight (CDC, 2008).

Due to the prevalence of chronic conditions often associated with obesity and the rising trend of obesity in children and youth, today's generation of children will likely live shorter lives than their parents.


The Obesity Epidemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together a short video, The Obesity Epidemic, that describes the complex factors that have contributed to the obesity epidemic.  The video also showcases a number of initiatives to prevent and reduce obesity that communities are implementing across the country. 

If you are interested in becoming more involved in creating a healthier Idaho, where "the healthy choice is the easy choice," view the HEAL Idaho page to learn about a growing movement and strategies to help your family, workplace, school, and community become more healthy.

Obesity-Related Conditions

Overweight individuals suffer more health problems than those who maintain normal weight. The rise in obesity rates is a cause of great concern because of the many adverse health conditions and chronic diseases it contributes to. These conditions include: 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are the most prevalent, costly and avoidable of all health problems.

Strategies and Solutions:

Although there is no single solution for addressing obesity, there are a number of strategies that states and local communities can adopt to address obesity among children, adolescents, and adults.

  • Assess the retail food environment.
  • Provide incentives for local farmers’ markets and grocery stores to establish businesses in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and/or sell healthier foods.
  • Expand programs that promote the use of local fruits and vegetables in public venues.
  • Adopt child care licensing standards that address healthy food choices and limit computer or TV screen time.
  • Increase access to drinking water and limit the sale of sugary drinks.
  • Support breast-feeding.
  • Create and maintain safe neighborhoods that support physical activity opportunities.
  • Support quality daily physical education standards in child care facilities and schools.

Healthy Weight:

Knowing your Body Mass Index (BMI), achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, and getting regular physical activity are all actions you can take to combat obesity.

Balancing the foods you eat (calories in) with the energy you burn through everyday activities and exercise (calories out) is referred to as "energy balance." When you take in more calories than you burn, your body stores that extra energy as fat. When you take in fewer calories than you burn, your body burns fat as fuel.

Finding and maintaining a healthy weight includes making changes to both diet and physical activity, so that your body burns more calories than it takes in, on a daily basis. Cutting 500 to 1,000 calories per day, through decreasing calories taken in and increasing physical activity, can lead to 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week. Short-term changes don't lead to a healthy weight. The key is a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and balanced nutrition. Making lifestyle changes doesn't have to be difficult and it certainly doesn't have to hurt.

Read on for some tips to successful weight loss that you can start today!

Healthy Weight Tips:

  • Enlist the help and support of a friend or family member. Work on your goals together and hold each other accountable.
  • Grab your shoes and take a walk! The most frequently report form of physical activity in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) study was walking.
  • Eat a balanced breakfast every day.
  • Keep track of your weight.
  • Spend less time in front of a screen and get some outdoor time.
  • Aim for 60 minutes per day of physical activity. 
    This can be broken up: Take a 15-minute walk break twice per day and play with your kids, take a walk, or some other activity for 30 minutes later in the day.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables handy.

 CDC's Take Action Resources:

Take Action for Me and My Family:
Regular physical activity can improve your overall health and fitness, and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases. Find out what you can do to be active.

Take Action for My Workplace: 
Healthy employees are productive employees. Find out what you can do to help make sure your employees are healthy by promoting physical activity at your work site.

Take Action for My Community:
See what communities can do to help make being physically active easier.