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Health Indicator Report of Obesity - Adult Prevalence

Obesity is associated with an increased risk for a number of other chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a number of cancers (endometrial, colon, kidney, esophageal, post-menopausal breast, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach, ovary, thyroid, meningioma, and multiple myeloma.) 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 population health priority for the New Mexico Department of Health along with diabetes, substance misuse, and unintended teen pregnancy.


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.
  • U.S. 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.

How Are We Doing?

After decades of climbing, New Mexico's overall rate of adult obesity has remained stable since 2014. However, certain groups of adults, such as American Indians, Hispanics, people who didn't graduate from high school, and people experiencing poverty, have significantly higher rates of obesity than some other groups. By age group, rates of obesity are higher for men and women in the 35 to 49 and 50 to 64 year age ranges than for those in older and younger age groups.

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) collaborates with state and local partners to implement sustainable policy, systems and environmental obesity prevention strategies to support healthy eating and physical activity. Healthy Kids Healthy Communities (HKHC), ONAPA's key program, builds state and local partnerships to expand opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for children and low-income adults where they live, learn, play, work, eat, and shop. HKHC coalitions in 11 counties and 3 tribal communities collaborate with over 600 state and local partners to create sustainable community change through a collective impact framework; key elements include a common agenda, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, shared measurements, and active coalitions to support increased healthy eating, increased physical activity, and healthy weights. - With the addition of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) funding in 2015, the ONAPA Program expanded its reach to the low-income adult population, specifically those participating in food assistance programs within tribal communities and high-poverty counties. ONAPA, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and NM State University are coordinating efforts to provide nutrition education through the implementation of food tastings and cooking demos for WIC recipients using WIC eligible foods, primarily fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Targeting women and children captures a majority of SNAP-eligible recipients, many of whom also receive WIC benefits, and provides an opportunity to reinforce and build upon nutrition and physical activity education strategies across multiple programs.

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 healthy eating and physical activity 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

NM Department of Healthy Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Program:

Page Content Updated On 12/19/2018, Published on 12/27/2018
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Content updated: Thu, 27 Dec 2018 08:57:04 MST