Thanks to a recently awarded federal research grant, Lincoln City will become one of a select number of communities where new techniques will be attempted to combat the country's obesity epidemic. The Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) at Oregon Health & Science University is sponsoring the effort through funding by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It will allow researchers from OHSU and communities - including Lincoln City - to study their populations and come up with creative solutions to the obesity problem with the goal of promoting lifelong fitness.
According to a 2007 report by the Oregon Department of Human Services, well over half of the state population is overweight or obese. In Lincoln County, almost 40 percent of residents were considered overweight in 2005 with 27 percent being obese.
“This data clearly suggests that we need to try new approaches to target obesity,” said Lyle J. Fagnan, M.D., director of ORPRN.
Health care providers involved in the Lincoln City area are Bayshore Family Medicine - Pacific City, Bayshore Family Medicine - Lincoln City, and the Lincoln City Medical Center. Initial efforts will center on surveying patients in family medicine clinics about their eating, exercise habits and community resources available to promote healthy habits, such as parks, walking trails, and diet programs. This research will seek to better understand how obesity is dealt with in the health system and whether interventions aimed at controlling the problem are prescribed and then followed by patients. With this data in hand, strategies for combatting the issue will be developed.
The federal funding will allow ORPRN researchers to work with eight primary care clinics located in four rural Oregon counties (Hood River, Crook, Jefferson and Lincoln). Lincoln City was selected as the first community to begin this work. Partners in these communities include representatives from public health, hospitals and direct service agencies.
“This effort is just one of the many ways in which OHSU serves the entire state of Oregon through our missions of healing, teaching and discovery,” said OHSU President Dr. Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “Our hope is that through partnerships like these, we can continue to directly address some of the serious health challenges threatening Oregonians.”
Additional partners in the collaborative project are the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the University of Colorado Health Science Center.