Identifying Health Problems with Adult Obesity in Portland (Oregon) Community

Identifying Health Problems with Adult Obesity in Portland (Oregon) Community

Obesity is a health problem that has raised concern worldwide. The condition results from a combination of causes and individual factors, most of which can be prevented. Obesity is a serious health condition because it is associated with other conditions like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and type II diabetes that lead to further morbidity and mortality. The city of Portland and the entire community of Oregon are faced with the challenge of obesity across all age groups. To help prevent obesity, public health’s role revolves around creating environments that encourage people to make healthy choices. Collaboration with the local health departments and the state or national teams is crucial towards the creation of healthier communities.

Population Affected

In the United States, 1 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese (CDC, 2021). Nearly 35% of the US population has obesity with different distributions across racial groups. The focus of this discussion is on Non-Hispanic Black adults that are observed to be having the highest obesity rates in the US and Oregon State. The CDC reports indicate that 49.6% of Non-Hispanic Black adults have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in the US (CDC, 2021). The Non-Hispanic Whites have an obesity rate of 42.2% making them the second largest group with the disease in the country.

Narrowing the demographics to Portland, Oregon, the CDC reports indicate that 37% of the adult population are faced with the challenge of overweight and obesity. Approximately 32.3% of the adult population has obesity and it is associated with poor health habits (America’s Health Rankings, 2021). For instance, less than 28% of the population consumes vegetables and fruits five or more times a day. In the City, certain populations are disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity. Although the population is too small to establish proper statistics, it is observed that the obesity rate among Blacks is approximately 37%.

Social Determinants and Health Behavior

The increasing prevalence of obesity creates a growing burden for people, societies, and the economy. Obesity is a condition that is associated with social determinants like the level of education, socioeconomic status alongside other individual factors like genetics. In Oregon, the most consistent upstream determinant of obesity among Non-Hispanic Blacks is lower socioeconomic status. For instance, about 7% of the population lives in extreme poverty with about 46,000 families having parents with no full-time, year-round employment (America’s Health Rankings, 2021). Lower socioeconomic status means that the people are not able to access essential services like education, health care, and food.

Obesity among adults is largely affected by lifestyle choices including exercise and healthy eating. An eating plan to keep healthy involves a variety of foods like vegetables, fruits, and those rich in other nutrients. In Portland, statistics indicate that only 28.3% of adults consume fruits and vegetables five or more times per day (America’s Health Rankings, 2021). The majority are observed to eat fast-food meals that have excess calories leading to obesity. Another important factor that potentially contributes to obesity among the selected population is the level of education. Overall, men and women with college degrees have a lower prevalence of obesity compared with individuals with less education. The non-Hispanic black population, especially men are observed to be having high levels of obesity due to low-level education. Statistics indicate that only 10.1% of Hispanics or Latino get to join colleges and universities (America’s Health Rankings, 2021). These statistics are consistent with national data where 22.7% of college graduates are considered to have obesity compared to 35.6% of adults lacking a high school diploma.


During the identification of the public health problem, I collaborated with Jessica Guernsey, the director of Multnomah County Public Health Department. As the head of public health in the region, I was privileged to discuss the burden of the disease among adults and the plan to reduce its prevalence. I observed that the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative has increased awareness among many people about obesity. The program continues to support various nutrition and physical activity standards across colleges and universities. The new plan for addressing the challenge involves encouraging physical activity at work through the Flex Time and physical activity policies and guidelines.

Summary of Sources

The first source consulted to inform the choice of health priorities was America’s health ranking foundation. It is observed that the obesity rate in the country is 31.9% with the state of Colorado being the healthiest with 24.2% (America’s Health Rankings, 2021). Oregon has an obesity rate of 32.3% whereby the Non-Hispanic Blacks have the highest rates. The obesity rate among the selected population in the State is 36.4% compared to 36.6% nationally (America’s Health Rankings). Regarding the age, obesity among adults aged 45 to 64 years is 23.3% compared to 37.2% nationally. Another crucial source of data was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The site describes the facts of disease among some groups and social determinants of health associated with obesity development (CDC, 2021). Overall, the Non-Hispanic Black adults have the highest obesity rates in the country with 49.6%with the main reason for increased prevalence being lower socio-economic status.


America’s Health Rankings. (2021). United Health Foundation annual report: Obesity, Oregon, United States.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Overweight and obesity: Adult obesity facts.