Fighting obesity and improving nutrition in Michigan


May 7, 2018

The Issue

Michigan faces the dual and interrelated challenges of hunger and obesity. According to the CDC, more than 30 percent of adults are considered obese and another 35 percent are considered overweight. Many residents do not eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables or meet the physical activity recommendations.

  • About 38 percent of adults eat fruit less than once a day and about 25 percent eat vegetables less than once a day.
  • Just under 40 percent of adolescents eat fruit less than once a day and about 38 percent of adolescents eat vegetables less than once a day.
  • 47 percent of adults do not complete the equivalent of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week.

MSU Extension Action

MSU Extension delivers affordable, relevant, evidence-based education to help adults, young people and families in urban and rural communities be healthy. Programs focus on helping participants gain the skills they need to buy and prepare nutritious, budget-friendly foods, increase their physical activity, breastfeed their babies and stretch their food dollars.

In the 2017 fiscal year, MSU Extension programs in these areas reached more than 128,000 adults and young people at more than 1,600 sites across the state. A sampling of evaluation data from our programs follows.

Key Programs

Key programs in MSU Extension efforts to fight obesity and improve the nutrition choices of Michigan residents include:

  • Cooking Matters
  • Show Me Nutrition for Children
  • Eat Healthy, Be Active for Adults
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Environmental Assessments

The Impact (2017)

Young People

Youth participants from kindergarten through 12th grade reported that as a result of these programs:

  • 79 percent improved their abilities or gained knowledge about how to choose foods following the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • 37 percent improved their physical activity practices or gained knowledge about such practices.
  • 44 percent used or gained knowledge about safe food-handling practices.
  • 44 percent improved their ability or gained knowledge about how to prepare simple, nutritious, affordable food.


Adult participants reported that as a result of these programs:

  • 78 percent made a positive change in at least one nutrition practice, such as preparing foods without adding salt, or using Nutrition Facts labels to make food choices.
  • 72 percent made a positive change in at least one food resource management practice, such as planning meals in advance or comparing prices when shopping.
  • 46 percent made a positive change in at least one food safety practice, such as not allowing meat and dairy foods to sit out for more than 2 hours.
  • 33 percent increased their consumption of fruits.
  • 32 percent increased their consumption of vegetables.
  • 27 percent increased their physical activity.
  • 38 percent more often planned meals in advance.
  • 43 percent more often used Nutrition Facts labels.
  • 37 percent thawed foods at room temperature less often.
  • 32 percent more often compared prices when shopping.
  • 33 percent more often used a grocery list when shopping.

How Michigan Benefits

Being overweight, obese or at risk for cardiovascular disease not only poses a threat to an individual’s quality of life, but also adds an economic burden of billions of dollars to the economy each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the medical costs associated with adult obesity total $147 billion. Your support of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension nutrition and physical activity programs helps participants improve the quality of their diets and become more active. This benefits everyone by reducing the risks of chronic conditions and moderating the increase in healthcare costs associated with obesity.

In 2017, the state’s $61.9 million investment in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension generated more than $1 billion for Michigan residents. Every dollar the state invested in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension resulted in an additional $2.50 leveraged in federal funds and external contracts, grants and other revenues, as well as $6.22 in additional community benefits. As a result, MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch are able to serve Michigan residents with a benefit/cost ratio of 18:1.


Tags: health impacts

Related Topic Areas

Food & Health, Nutrition, Weight Management

For more information visit:

MSU Extension

Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at

Michigan State University Michigan State University Close Menu button Menu and Search button Open Close