State's Approach


Public Health in Washington: Helping communities, schools, and businesses make changes to help people make healthy choices.

More than 60 percent of people in Washington are overweight or obese. However, we didn't get this way overnight. It has taken many years–obesity rates have continued to climb as our community environment has changed.

The way we live, where we live is our environment. To get healthy and stay healthy, our environment has to change. Changes in policy at the state, regional, and local levels are needed to improve the environments where we live, learn, work, and play.

Public health focuses on strategies to help change the system that makes us unhealthy. We call these environmental and policy changes.


Someone who is overweight has a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9.

Someone who is obese has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.

To find your body mass index, enter your height and weight into the BMI calculator:

Environmental change: Obesity can be prevented if people would eat less and move more. However, often environmental factors prevent access to healthy foods and ways to be physically active. The environment where we work, for example, might not have healthy choices in vending machines. The environment where we live might have busy streets and no sidewalks, making it difficult to walk.

Policy change: Policies at the state, regional and local levels need to be made or revised so that healthy changes will last. An example of a policy change might be a school district no longer allowing students to purchase non-diet soda in school.