Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Initiative
“Obesity is one of the most complex issues of our time. To have a lasting impact, it must be addressed in a meaningful, systematic and coordinated way. Everyone has a role in this, and unless there is a measurable level of success in preventing obesity, the state’s health systems will be overwhelmed.”
- Dr. Alexandra Adams
2014, Targeted Grants
Alexandra Adams, MD, PhD
UW School of Medicine and Public Health
Department of Family Medicine
Brian Christens, PhD
School of Human Ecology
Wisconsin Partnership Program
The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 2014 committed more than $8.6 million to confront the state’s emerging obesity epidemic. The Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Initiative utilizes a multi-faceted approach, including community-based research, initially in two counties.
A five-year $7.5 million grant from the Partnership Education and Research Committee (PERC) provides the infrastructure to build strategic alignment among government entities, communities, researchers, advocates, non-profit organizations and businesses.
Grant funding also is being used to develop a childhood obesity surveillance system and create statewide messaging that helps residents understand how daily decisions affect their health.
Dr. Alexandra Adams, associate professor of family medicine at the School of Medicine and Public Health, is the grant’s principal investigator and leads a team of faculty and community investigators.
In collaboration with health officials in Marathon and Menominee counties, researchers are using complementary funding of $1.1 million from the Partnership Program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC) to test and implement a community-based model for childhood obesity prevention.
Dr. Brian Christens, associate professor in UW-Madison’s School of Human Ecology, is the principal investigator for the first phase of community work.
Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer and other diseases. According to preliminary data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), 72 percent of Wisconsin adults are overweight or obese.
There is limited data about the weight status of children; however, data suggests that 25 percent of Wisconsin high school students and 31 percent of children 2 to 4 years old are overweight or obese (compared to 12 percent and 5 percent, respectively, 50 years ago).