DHMH is working to implement policy and environmental strategies to make healthy eating and active living accessible and affordable for everyone to decrease obesity rates in Maryland.

Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity

The prevalence of obesity in Maryland is similar to that of the rest of the country. In Maryland, 28.3% of adults are considered obese. Of adults who are overweight or obese, 45% had high blood pressure and 47% had high cholesterol; 23% of adults who were obese had diabetes.

Obesity and Health

At least 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40% of some cancers are preventable through proper nutrition, daily physical activity and smoking cessation.

Cost of Obesity

Chronic disease is the leading source of health care costs in Maryland, both in terms of direct costs (hospitalizations, medications, clinic visits) and indirect costs (early death, productivity loss). Based upon an estimate by the Milken Institute, chronic disease cost Maryland $5.2 billion in treatment expenditures in 2003 and another $20.5 billion in lost productivity.

Childhood Obesity

Among low-income children aged 2-4 years, 17.1% were overweight and 15.8% were obese in 2009. The Student Healthy Weight Program enables children to be identified by their pediatrician and referred to their school nurse and physical education teachers to receive tailored, individualized education and support. The program is currently being piloted in 3 counties.