Although Massachusetts has lower rates of obesity than most other states, it is still a major public health problem.
  • More than half of Massachusetts adults are overweight or obese
  • One third of high school and middle school students are overweight of obese

Over the last 20 years, adult obesity has more than doubled. Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

One of the major factors contributing to the obesity epidemic is the increased portion size of foods and beverages. Added to this, there is easy access to unhealthy, low-cost junk food, which is high in calories and low in nutrients. Further, Americans are not as active as they used to be, and most children and adults don’t get enough sleep – also a risk factor for obesity.  Here are a few tips to help prevent or reduce overweight or obesity:

  • Choose healthier, less-processed food (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and non-fat dairy products, whole grain cereals, and baked goods made with whole grains)
  • Have smaller portions
  • Choose plain, carbonated or naturally flavored water (and reduce juice, soda, sports drinks and specialty teas)
  • Fit regular physical activity into your day (walking as part of your commute, biking, stair-climbing, gardening, playing tennis, skiing, skating, dancing, etc.)
  • Set a goal
    • Adults: 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least five days a week
    • Children: at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity ever day
  • Cut down on recreational screen time
  • Get enough sleep
    • 7-8 hours a day for adults
    • 9-10 hours a day for teens
    • At least 10 hours for school-aged children
    • 11-12 hours for pre-school-aged children
    • 16-18 hours a day for newborns

For more tips on how to eat better and move more, visit

Calculate your BMI here.

To download materials on healthy eating and physical activity, visit the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse at


This information is provided by the Wellness Unit within the Department of Public Health.