‘Eat Right, Bite by Bite’ theme for National Nutrition Month 2020

Wisconsin Health Atlas provides state obesity statistics


By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor

LINCOLN COUNTY – March is National Nutrition Month, and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating with this year’s theme, “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.”

The campaign invites the public to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

“The overall message is that quality nutrition isn’t restrictive, but that small changes to diet can have a cumulative effect on health over time. Every healthy nutritional choice is a choice in the right direction!” the Academy said.

The Academy breaks down the month of March into four separate weeks, with specific themes and goals designated for each week.

Week One: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day.

  • Include healthful foods from all food groups.
  • Hydrate healthfully.
  • Learn how to read Nutrition Fact Panels.
  • Practice Portion Control.
  • Take time to enjoy your food.

Week Two: Plan your meals each week.

  • Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods.
  • Be menu-savvy when dining out.
  • Choose healthful recipes to make during the week.
  • Enjoy healthful eating at school and at work.
  • Plan healthful eating while traveling.

Week Three: Learn skills to create tasty meals.

  • Keep healthful ingredients on hand.
  • Practice proper home food safety.
  • Share meals together as a family when possible.
  • Reduce food waste.
  • Try new flavors and foods.

Week Four: Consult a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN).

  • Ask your doctor for a referral to and RDN.
  • Receive personalized nutrition advice to meet your goals.
  • Meet RDNs in a variety of settings throughout the community.
  • Find an RDN who is specialized to serve your unique needs.
  • Thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, visit www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month.

Obesity epidemic in Wisconsin

The National Nutrition Month campaign encouraging healthier lifestyle choices comes at a time when obesity in America, Wisconsin included, is as prevalent as ever.

According to the Wisconsin Health Atlas from the University Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, 41.2% of adults and 14.8% of children statewide had obesity in 2015 to 2016.

“As high as these overall numbers are, they mask another set of findings that are arguably more important for Wisconsin’s long-term health and prosperity,” states the Wisconsin Health Atlas website, www.wihealthatlas.org. “We describe patterns of obesity rates by age and by place. We find that there are neighborhoods in Wisconsin where children are almost six times more likely to be obese than in other nearby neighborhoods.”

Creators of the Wisconsin Health Atlas use data to map obesity patterns they observe in the state, along with offering “connections to resources, possible solutions, and other change-makers that can help you take direct action to address obesity in your area,” the website says.

The map presents obesity data by zip code.

“Where you live has a big impact on your opportunities to maintain a healthy weight. People living in ZIP Codes throughout Wisconsin have very different rates of obesity,” the website states. “Adult obesity rates ranged from 15.9% to 67.2% statewide. That means the ZIP Codes with the highest rates of adult obesity have rates over four times as high as ZIP Codes with the lowest rates.”

Differences in location have an even more striking effect on children, with childhood obesity rates ranging from 5.8% to 38.5%.

“That’s about six times as high in ZIP Codes with the highest obesity rates compared to those with the lowest,” the website says.

The Health Atlas noted that rural areas generally have higher rates of obesity than urban areas. Rural areas “tend to be older, have less education, and have less access to health care, factors that we know are associated with higher obesity rates. Beyond these population differences, rural environments themselves present unique barriers to healthy eating and physical activity.”

However, rural areas also present unique opportunities to combat obesity, such as having a school or community building that can provide an activity hub for active living programs and policies, and being pleasant places to walk and bike, the Health Atlas stated.

To view numerous maps regarding the health of Wisconsin residents, including the obesity map, visit www.wihealthatlas.org.

Obesity Rates in Northern Wisconsin by Zip Code, 2015 to 2016


ZIP CODE                                                             Obesity Prevalence

                                                                         Ages 5 to 17        Ages 18+

Tomahawk, 54487                                          15.3%                         44.6%

Brantwood, 54513                                           No data                     45.2%

Gleason, 54443                                                 18.0%                       51.6%

Harshaw, 54529                                               No data                    44.2%

Hazelhurst, 54531                                            18.4%                        40.2%

Irma, 54442                                                       24.6%                       49.6%

Merrill, 54452                                                    20.2%                       49.2%

Ogema, 54459                                                   12.3%                        47.6%

Tripoli, 54564                                                    No data                   52.4%

                                      Data provided by the Wisconsin Health Atlas.

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