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Health Indicator Report of Obesity - Adult Prevalence

Obesity is associated with an increased risk for a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers (endometrial, colon, kidney, esophageal, and post-menopausal breast cancer.) In both New Mexico and the United States, the percentage of adults who are obese, based on telephone survey data, has more than doubled since 1990. Excess weight also contributes to the development of arthritis, a chronic disease that is the leading cause of disability amongst adults in the nation and the state. Obesity has been identified as a super-priority for the New Mexico Department of Health along with diabetes and substance misuse.


Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30.0 kg/m2. BMI is calculated as: [[weight (in pounds) / [height (in inches)]2] x 703]. BMI is a measure of a person's weight in relationship to height. Obesity refers to excessive body fat. For most adults, BMI is strongly correlated with total body fat, and serves as a good surrogate measure for obesity.   U.S. value is the median value for all states and the District of Columbia. Estimates for 2011 and forward should not be compared to earlier years (please refer to Data Interpretation Issues, below).

Data Sources

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with New Mexico Department of Health, Injury and Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data

Data Interpretation Issues

Data for this indicator report are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing survey of adults regarding their health-related behaviors, health conditions, and preventive services. Data are collected in all 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories. Responses have been weighted to reflect the New Mexico adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership. The survey is conducted using scientific telephone survey methods for landline and cellular phones (with cellular since 2011). The landline phone portion of the survey excludes adults living in group quarters such as college dormitories, nursing homes, military barracks, and prisons. The cellular phone portion of the survey includes adult students living in college dormitories but excludes other group quarters. Beginning with 2011, the BRFSS updated its surveillance methods by adding in calls to cell phones and changing its weighting methods. These changes improve BRFSS' ability to take into account the increasing proportion of U.S. adults using only cellular telephones as well as to adjust survey data to improve the representativeness of the estimates generated from the survey. Results have been adjusted for the probability of selection of the respondent, and have been weighted to the adult population by age, gender, phone type, detailed race/ethnicity, renter/owner, education, marital status, and geographic area. Lastly and importantly, these changes mean that the data from years prior to 2011 are not directly comparable to data from 2011 and beyond. Please see the [ BRFSS Method Change Factsheet]. The "missing" and "don't know" responses are excluded when calculating a percentage.


The adult obesity prevalence is reported as the percent of BRFSS respondents whose self-reported height and weight corresponds to a Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30.0.


Number of obese adults from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.


Number of adults from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

Healthy People Objective: NWS-9, Reduce the proportion of adults who are obese

U.S. Target: 30.5 percent

Other Objectives

New Mexico Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI)

How Are We Doing?

Mirroring national trends, New Mexico's rate of obesity continues to climb.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

New Mexico's percent is consistently equal to or slightly below the national median percent of obese adult over the past decade.

What Is Being Done?

- The New Mexico Department of Health's (DOH) Obesity, Nutrition and Physical Activity Program (ONAPA) is collaborating with state and local partners to implement sustainable obesity prevention strategies that integrate policy, systems and environmental approaches with direct nutrition education via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed). This programmatic expansion allows ONAPA to reach the low-income adult population for the first time, specifically those participating in food assistance programs. Healthy Kids Healthy Communities (HKHC), ONAPA's key program, is building a strong partnership with NMSU Cooperative Extension Services to implement tasting and cooking demonstrations to increase exposure and access to healthy foods among the 40,000 low-income families and 16,000 low-income senior adults that receive services from food assistance sites across the state. Policy, systems and environmental changes coupled with direct nutrition education can have a positive impact on adult behavior and health and weight status where strategies are implemented. - Policy, systems, and environmental efforts to address obesity at the local level happens primarily in communities with high poverty rates through Healthy Kids Healthy Communities in coordination with over 400 state and local partners across New Mexico. With the addition of SNAP-Ed funding, HKHC expanded its reach from 9 to 15 counties. ONAPA is also partnering with 5 tribal organizations to help build sustainability and expand reach of obesity prevention efforts through impactful policy, systems and environmental changes in tribal communities. All projects support health-promoting behaviors and are consistent with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) mission of improving the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will have access to healthy and affordable food choices. - The statewide Healthy Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a collaborative partnership between ONAPA, DOH's Diabetes Prevention and Control Program and Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, Envision New Mexico, and the New Mexico Hospital Association, aims to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in hospitals for employees and visitors. In the assessment phase, baseline observational data is collected on hospital grounds (cafeteria, vending machines, and environmental supports for physical activity), wellness directors are interviewed on current policies, and an online survey of staff nutrition and physical activity behaviors is administered. Based on the data, the HHI leadership team is developing policy recommendations and building support for hospitals to create healthier environments. As hospitals begin to make positive policy and environmental changes, establish and expand worksite wellness initiatives, and facilitate on-site or virtual chronic disease self-management programs, employees and visitors will have increased access to healthy options which can, in turn, lead to better health and weight status.

Evidence-based Practices

To help communities in this effort, CDC initiated the Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention Project (the Measures Project). The objective of the Measures Project was to identify and recommend a set of strategies and associated measurements that communities and local governments can use to plan and monitor environmental and policy-level changes for obesity prevention. This report describes the expert panel process that was used to identify 24 recommended strategies for obesity prevention and a suggested measurement for each strategy that communities can use to assess performance and track progress over time. The 24 strategies are divided into six categories: 1) strategies to promote the availability of affordable healthy food and beverages), 2) strategies to support healthy food and beverage choices, 3) a strategy to encourage breastfeeding, 4) strategies to encourage physical activity or limit sedentary activity among children and youth, 5) strategies to create safe communities that support physical activity, and 6) a strategy to encourage communities to organize for change. For more information, please see Kahn, et al., Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States, [].

Available Services

- ONAPA (and HKHC) provides ongoing technical assistance on how to implement obesity prevention strategies that support SNAP-Ed and HHI efforts in communities across New Mexico. - The Double Up Food Bucks Program allows SNAP participants to stretch their food dollars at 35 farmers' markets across the state that process SNAP transactions. This initiative improves fresh food access for nearly 400,000 SNAP participants in 18 counties and gives a boost to local economies by recirculating food dollars: [].

Health Program Information

- New Mexico Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed) 2016 State Plan (web link forthcoming) - Healthy Hospitals Initiative website: []
Page Content Updated On 02/12/2018, Published on 02/12/2018
The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Mon, 12 November 2018 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:53:54 MST