Health Index Priority: Decrease Obesity

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 are obese.
  • 24% of adults in the MaineHealth service area reported no physical activity or exercise outside of work in last 30 days.
  • 15% of Maine high school and middle school students are obese.

Data and measures

The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to decrease obesity.

Adult Prevalence


Recent trends of obesity in Maine and the MaineHealth service area are encouraging. Although the trend lines in the graph suggest obesity increased slightly from 2011 to 2015, the rates were not statistically different. Having stable rates over time can be viewed as an intermediate step toward the ultimate goal of reducing the prevalence of obesity.

Youth Prevalence


Although the rate of increase in youth obesity has been stabilizing, 14% of middle school students and 13% of high school students have obesity.

Youth Prevalence: How Maine Compares to the U.S.


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 one of the higher rates of youth obesity in New England.

Screen Time Among Youth in Maine


The percentage of middle and high school students that spend 3 or more hours per day playing video games or using a computer has been steadily increasing. The time spent (3+ hours) excludes school work done on the computer.

Healthy Eating and Active Living


Although 81% of adults get some physical activity each month, only about half of those 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.

Taking action: Expanding the Let's Go! program to reach adults

We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help decrease obesity throughout the MaineHealth service area. With support from Maine Medical Partners and MaineHealth, Let's Go! has expanded its reach beyond children with the development of the Small Steps initiative to address adult obesity.

The program emphasizes positive messages encouraging healthy habits to support weight: Eat Real, Move More, Drink Water and Rest Up. The program launched in the primary care setting in 2016 and is currently implemented by 14 practices within the MaineHealth system. The program plans to expand with the goal of supporting additional practices and worksite wellness programs.

By September 30, 2018, at least 80 percent of eligible MaineHealth practices will receive training on the Small Steps standard of care for adult obesity and at least 50 percent of practices will be implementing components of this standard.

Interactive maps with county-level data

Looking for more obesity data? Visit the Health Index website to find data on obesity rates, obesity related conditions, and healthy behaviors.

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