Following the examples of national public health agencies, the Portland Plan includes “healthy weight” as an indicator — or sign — of healthy people in the city. People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of experiencing chronic diseases, from Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Although healthy weight data is not available at the city scale, we can use data at the county scale as an approximation. In Multnomah County, the percentage of adults at a healthy weight is on the decline. In 1993, 55 percent of county residents were classified as being at a healthy weight. The latest data (from 2006-09) shows that about 44 percent of adults in the county are at a healthy weight, down 11 percent. Of those not at a healthy weight, about 34 percent are considered overweight and another 22 percent are obese. And only about 55 percent of adults in the county meet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended daily level of physical activity — 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days.
It’s no secret that eating healthier foods and exercising more is the way to reverse this trend. But what actions can public agencies take to encourage this?
The Portland Plan features the Healthy Connected City strategy, which aims to increase access to grocery stores and healthy foods while promoting physical activity for residents.
Living in walkable neighborhoods with easy access to amenities and transit is a growing priority for Portland families. Through the actions in the Portland Plan and the Comprehensive Plan Update, the City and its partners hope to create more places where it’s easy to get around by foot, bike or public transportation, giving people more opportunities to be active.
In the long run, a more connected urban environment may be one of the most practical solutions to preventing obesity and reducing related diseases. How walkable is your neighborhood?
Oregon Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System County Combined Dataset, 2006-2009.
Multnomah County Community Health Assessment Quarterly, Fall 2008.