Obesity in Women | Categories Utah Women and Health Risk Factors | DOI: 10.26054/0K1HBREEWW


Women in Utah are becoming heavier and obesity is emerging as a major public health crisis. Obese adults are at increased risk for developing hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, osteoarthritis, and cancers of the colon, breast, endometrium, kidney and esophagus (1). Only smoking exceeds obesity as the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. The Healthy People 2010 goal is for no more than 15% of adults to be obese. In females, Utah exceeds this goal by more than 5%.

Obesity is calculated using the Body Mass Index (BMI) (2), which is a measure of body fat based upon height and weight and applies to both men and women. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater.

Obesity Rates for Females Ages 18 - 65. Utah BRFSS Data, 1995 - 2005

Obesity rates among Utah women are slightly than lower the U.S. rates, 20.2% in Utah vs. 23.5% in the U.S. in 2005 (3). The U.S. rate has increased 57.8% since 1995 while Utah’s rate has increased 49.6% in the same time period.

Utah data vs. the U.S. How are we doing

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from 2005, indicate that 20.2% of women aged 18 – 65 reported a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Rates of obesity were lowest in females aged 18 – 34 and highest in those aged 50 – 64.

Risk Factors

Eating and exercise habits play into weight management. 2005 Utah BRFSS data show that 79.8% of women reported no physical activity and 44.8% said they did not meet recommendations for moderate or vigorous physical activity (30 minutes of moderate activity five times per week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times per week). Only 29.1% of women report eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day. Twice daily fruit consumption was reported by 38.4% of women and consumption of vegetables three times a day by 28.6% of women. The high rates of obesity combined with the low rates of fruit/vegetable consumption and low exercise cross all races/ethnicities.

Obesity, Eating, and Exercise by Race/Ethnicity 2005 BRFSS Data


In May 2006, the Utah Department of Health, in conjunction with Governor Huntsman, published “Tipping the Scales Toward a Healthier Population: The Utah Blueprint to Promote Healthy Weight for Children, Youth, and Adults.” This publication offers comprehensive strategies for obesity prevention from families to health care systems. The publication can be found at health.utah.gov/obesity/docs/ObesityBlueprint.pdf.


  1. BMI is calculated with the following formula: (weight in pounds/height in inches2) X 703.
  2. Bureau of Health Promotion. Tipping the Scales Toward a Healthier Population: The Utah Blueprint to Promote Healthy Weight for Children, Youth,
    and Adults. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Department of Health 2006.
  3. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. September 15, 2006/55(36); 985-988.
    BRFSS data retrieved on 12/30/2006 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator Based Information System for Public Health
    website: http://ibis.health.utah.gov.

Laurie Baksh, MPH

Editorial Advisory Board, 2007 Utah Health Review, Women's Health in Utah