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An Apple A Day: How obesity impacts Milwaukee and an analysis of prevention strategies from other cities

Our new report finds that obesity is a serious and substantive public health challenge in the City of Milwaukee. To address this challenge, we recommend a stepped-up and collaborative effort between the City's Health Department, nonprofit organizations, and private philanthropy.

Research highlights:

  • In 2014, 37.2% of Milwaukee residents were considered obese, an increase from 29.6% in 2011.
  • Areas of the city with a low socioeconomic status have the highest rates of obesity. Contributing factors may include: greater number of fast food outlets, fewer supermarkets, and fewer opportunities for physical activity and recreation.
  • A variety of Milwaukee-based organizations are addressing this issue by enhancing opportunities for physical activity and working to ensure that all Milwaukee residents have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Our review of obesity prevention efforts in other cities suggests Milwaukee would benefit from having a convening entity to coordinate its disparate efforts; we suggest that role be played by a community-based organization given the Milwaukee Health Department's competing priorities.


The report was produced under the Forum's Norman N. Gill Fellowship, an initiative funded by the family of Norman N. Gill, the organization's director from 1945 to 1984. The Fellowship offers a Milwaukee-area graduate student the opportunity to conduct a policy research project under the guidance of Forum staff while engaged in academic studies.


Media Coverage

"Report Finds Obesity in Milwaukee a Serious Problem"
Wisconsin Health News

"Research group has possible fix for Milwaukee's obesity problem"

"Report: Milwaukee continues to struggle with obesity"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel