About the Project
The Toll of Obesity
Obesity poses a serious threat to public health and productivity in Maine. Adult obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1990. Almost 30% of adults and 14% of high school students have obesity today. Obesity increases the risk for many serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and depression. A majority of adults and adolescents in America do not get enough physical activity or eat enough fruits and vegetables, impacting their overall health and their ability to learn and be productive. Here in Maine, the disease of obesity is a tremendous economic burden on families and businesses, with direct medical costs alone totaling $450 million every year. Today's generation may be the first to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.
Collaboration and Coordination
Taking action together to reduce obesity and the medical conditions associated with obesity is essential for securing Maine's health and economic future. The Maine Obesity Advisory Council (MOAC) was convened in October 2017 by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention (Maine CDC) and Let's Go!, a program of The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center. MOAC has developed recommendations to guide local, district, and statewide programs, policies, and partnerships in reducing obesity and the medical conditions associated with obesity, that result in poor health, higher medical costs, and negative impacts on quality of life in Maine. Since its formation, MOAC has brought together public health and medical professionals, educators, community leaders, and many other stakeholders – all bringing vast experience across sectors and settings.
Current and Past Participants
Our Approach to the Challenge
MOAC was charged with developing a practical and realistic roadmap for early childhood education, schools, out-of-school childcare, healthcare, workplaces, communities, and government. We focused on the policy and environmental factors that contribute to obesity and engaged in an extensive process of reviewing data; assessing recommendations from national experts and previous planning efforts in Maine; and collecting input from additional stakeholders. The result is a simple but comprehensive set of evidence-based recommendations, standards, and resources for local and state level action.
MOAC recommendations are founded in the belief that everyone has a role to play, and partnerships will be central to the success of maximizing health outcomes, reducing costs, and improving lives. The recommendations reflect consensus among members. They are grounded in evidence, designed for collaborative effort, and can be tailored to Maine communities. They are not intended to be static; it is presumed and expected that they will be updated as evidence and environments evolve. The recommendations are designed with a focus on prevention as well as local control, understanding that specific implementation steps may need to differ by region and setting. MOAC places a strong emphasis on equity and encourages implementation efforts that employ positive messaging to reduce obesity stigma and bias.
MOAC envisions a future where the healthy choice is the easy choice - where Maine people are eating nutritious foods and getting plenty of physical activity, where the value of breast milk is well understood and breast feeding is commonplace, and where community partnerships are strong and relevant in our collective efforts to prevent obesity and promote healthy weight.
What We Recommend
Summary of Recommendations [pdf]
How to Use these Recommendations
MOAC recommendations include guidance across six settings, providing both a consistent framework and flexible implementation strategies, as current and local circumstances support. For each goal, more specific recommendations can be easily converted into measurable SMART objectives by including a quantifiable change within a certain timeframe. Policy and environmental measures are suggested for each strategy, along with standards and resources for each implementation setting.
Community partnerships, local evaluation, and the sharing of outcomes among us will be essential to our success. MOAC is not an implementing organization – our recommendations are not (currently) a fully funded, managed plan. But we know that when our communities work toward common goals, using practical and proven strategies, we can give Maine children and adults the opportunity for better health and productivity, while supporting Maine businesses through lower costs from a healthier workforce.