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District Releases First Ever Obesity Report And Obesity Action Plan

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Action plan will help the 20 percent of all residents who are currently obese.

Washington, DC – Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Department of Health (DOH) Director Dr. Pierre Vigilance released the first ever Obesity Report and Obesity Action Plan for the District of ColumbiaObesity in the District of Columbia (The Report) is the first comprehensive report looking at obesity and factors that contributed to obesity in the District.  Working Towards a Healthy DC The District of Columbia’s Overweight and Obesity Action Plan (The Action Plan) is the first five year strategic plan for the government and the community to reduce the rate of overweight and obesity. Together, they are the key to DOH’s ongoing effort to increase awareness of and reduce the number of residents who are considered overweight or obese, as well as those with chronic health conditions often connected to overweight and obesity. Poor diet and physical inactivity, two major contributors to obesity, combine to be the second most common preventable cause of death in the District, accounting for 15 % of all deaths in 2007.  

 “The District of Columbia is excited to release new data and our strategic plan that will help explain and address some of the high rates of overweight and obesity in our city,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “These reports combined offer an effective approach to tackling many of the issues that surround overweight and obesity in the District, such as poor health behaviors, income, access to healthy food options, and proper diet and nutrition”.

Obesity in the District of Columbia

The Report uses an assessment of health behaviors, obesity rates, income, diet and nutrition, gender, race, crime, access to and types of food options, and demographic information for each of the city’s eight wards.  For the Children and Adolescent Obesity section of the report Youth Behavior Risk Survey (YBRS) data from 2007 was used.  Additional data is further broken down by Advisory Neighborhood Council (ANC) districts. Creating a comprehensive report allows DOH, residents and community groups to understand factors that contribute to the District’s obesity rate and begin to find solutions to address the problem.  

Report Findings:

  • Women, at 25.1%, are more likely to be obese than men, 18.9% of whom are obese.
  • Residents with diabetes and high blood pressure have high rates of obesity
  • Residents who ate 5 or more fruits or vegetables daily were less likely to be overweight or obese.
  • The wards with the most grocery stores, organic food and farmers markets, Wards 2 and 3, had the lowest rates of obesity; Ward 8 had the fewest healthy food options and had the highest rate of obesity.
  • High school aged boys were more likely to be obese, at 19% than their female counterparts, 15.8% of whom were obese.  
  • 30% of high school aged youth get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise 5 days of the week.
  • Rates of obesity have increased over a 5 year period from 2003 -2007 for high school aged youth.
  • Rates of physical activity as well as fruit and vegetable consumption decreased over a five year period from 2003-2007 for high school aged youth.
  • Good nutrition standards in schools may be undone by easily accessible unhealthy food surrounding schools.  

“As a nation, we need to do more to combat obesity, and the data from our Preventable Cause of Death report clearly shows that poor nutrition and a lack of regular physical activity present significant threats to our health,” said Dr. Pierre Vigilance, Director of DOH. “This report and action plan give us an opportunity to engage the community, work with them to improve their food environment, educate them on better dietary choices, and inspire them to being more physically active.”

The District of Columbia’s Overweight and Obesity Action Plan

The Action Plan was put together with the help and input from community members and other District Government agencies.  In order to ensure that goals were realistic and supported by the community, DOH made a particular effort to engage the wards where overweight and obesity rates are the highest.  The Action Plan lays out strategies and tactics for achieving 8 specific goals in 7 categories over the next 5 years. 

Action Plan Goals:

  •  Schools and Child Care Facilities – District of Columbia children and adults are able to maintain health y eating and physical activity to support a healthy weight while in schools and child care facilities.
  • Medical and Health Services – District of Columbia residents have access to breastfeeding opportunities and integrated high-quality weight management interventions.
  • Food Retail and Food Service Establishments – District of Columbia residents consume a diet consistent with e Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Physical Activity – District of Columbia residents are physically active on a regular basis consistent with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
  • Worksites – District of Columbia residents are able to maintain healthy eating and physical activity at their place of employment to support a healthy weight.
  • Faith-Based Institutions – District of Columbia residents are able to maintain healthy eating and physical activity at their faith-based institutions to support a healthy weight.
  • Overarching Support Systems and Infrastructure – District of Columbia Government agencies and community and professional non-government agencies collaborate to ensure that residents at risk of overweight and obesity have access to healthy foods, opportunities to be physically active, and supportive policies combined with information to regularly make healthy choices.

Overarching Support Systems and Infrastructure – The District of Columbia obtains current and critical data sets that describe the health status of residents and tracks and monitors the key elements of the District of Columbia Overweight and Obesity Action Plan.

Obesity in the District of Columbia and The District of Columbia’s Overweight and Obesity Action Plan  are part of DOH’s Live Well DC initiative, an interagency effort to create a holistic approach to health and wellness for the District, by targeting individual behaviors that result in poor health outcomes across the District, and influence changes in policy that affect the most commonly preventable causes of death.  As part of Live Well DC, DOH will continue to release data and information, through reports and public education campaigns, to encourage and empower residents to make smart choices about their health.  To read both Reports in their entirety, select Obesity Report and Action Plan.