Mauli Ola, Health: To improve the quality and longevity of life, Native Hawaiians will enjoy healthy lifestyles and experience reduced onset of chronic diseases. Learn more about the work we do at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to create systemic change in Mauli Ola, Health.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight or obese increases the risk for many diseases and health conditions including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, gallbladder disease, blood lipids (e.g., cholesterol), and some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). The Hawaiʻi Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (HBRFSS) reports annual obesity rates for Native Hawaiian adults (18+ years). Figure 1 depicts the adult obesity rates for Native Hawaiians and the State of Hawaiʻi from 1999-2011. Also included are the Healthy People 2020 and the OHA benchmarks. To achieve a 35% obesity rate, 24,655 people would be affected (84,998 down to 60,343) based on 2009 population estimates by the American Community Survey.

This chart depicts the disparity in the State's effort to reduce obesity. The red line signifies our 2020 Target and the blue demonstrates the Native Hawaiian data far above the state average.



  • OHA advocates for good policy choices that benefit our entire state population when the results will have a meaningful impact on the lives of Native Hawaiians.
  • Implementing policy that allows state agencies to address the social determinants of health simply makes our approach to healthcare more efficient, and benefits our entire population.
  • HB1616 HD1 SD1 was passed in 2014 to update our State Planning Act to reflect best practices and to ensure the most efficient use of resources by targeting key services, interventions, prevention programs and funding to address the social determinants of health of Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders and Filipinos. http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=1616&year=2014. This bill encourages all state agencies to implement best practices in health planning and support targeted services, interventions and prevention programs that are proven successes in improving health outcomes for Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islanders and Filipinos.

To support Native Hawaiians building stability in their housing self-sufficiency, OHA solicits proposals every biennium to provide services that increase the percent of Native Hawaiian who improve their capacity to own or rent a home. In the years 2014-2015, OHA is working with five community organizations to specifically provide services to increase stability in housing for Native Hawaiians so they may be able to progress toward long-term economic self-sufficiency.

Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, I Ola Lahui, Inc., Kokua Kalihi Valley, Salvation Army FTS, The Queenʻs Medical Center currently provide more than 1,221 Native Hawaiian individuals and families with health services like:

  • Outreach, screening, intake and assessment;
  • Case management that includes the development of individual service plans, monitoring of participant progress and follow-up with participants;
  • Counseling and referrals (Referrals should, at minimum, put participants in contact with an actual staff person of the identified agency);
  • Education regarding nutrition and promotion of physical activity;
  • Development and dissemination of literature and other materials that address obesity and are culturally relevant (Materials may be designed for various demographics of our
  • Native Hawaiian community, i.e. kūpuna, ʻōpio, wāhine, kāne, ʻohana, etc.);
  • Incorporation of traditional Hawaiian practices and concepts supporting cultural strategies related to health and wellness; and
  • Measurement and evaluation of program progress and success.

Native Hawaiian Health Task Force: In 2014, Senate Concurrent Resolution 114 was passed for the University Of Hawaii John A. Burns School Of Medicine to establish A Native Hawaiian Health Task Force. OHA is one of the primary members.

Social Determinants of Health Working Group: In 2013, House Concurrent Resolution 146 was passed to establish a work group to examine social determinants of health and risk adjustment for Medicaid, gap-group, and uninsured individuals. OHA is one of the members.

The Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force: In 2012, Senate Bill 2778 was signed into law as Act 269 to address the growing crisis of childhood obesity in Hawai'i. OHA is one of 20 members.

Weight Classification for Native Hawaiians and the State: 2012

Prevalence of Diabetes (age adjusted) in Hawaiʻi: 2004–2010

Hawaiians At Risk for Overweight or Obese by Gender, 2005-2007

Hawaiians At Risk for Overweight or Obese by State of Hawaiʻi Comparison and County, 2005-2007

Selected Chronic and Other Health Conditions for Native Hawaiians (age adjusted): 2010


American Community Survey (ACS): An ongoing statistical survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau to collect population and housing information from about 3.5 million addresses yearly.
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS): A phone survey initiated in 1984 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted in 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and six U.S. territories. The Hawaiʻi BRFSS (HBRFSS) is part of the national BRFSS.
Body Mass Index (BMI): A ratio of body weight (kg) to height (m2). If weight is in pounds (lb) and height in inches (in), multiply the ratio by 703 (NIH). It does not take into account issues like race/ethnicity.
Healthy People 2020 (HP2020): A comprehensive report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provides national health goals and objectives on 42 topic areas for a 10-year period.
Obesity: A condition characterized by excessive body fat, a BMI of 30 or higher (NIH).


American Community Survey (ACS). Retrieved on June 04, 2013 from http:// www.ohadatabook.com/ACS_2009_HI_Combo.pdf and http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/ nav/jsf/pages/wc_acs.xhtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Retrieved on May 22, 2013 from http:// www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/hawaii.html and http://www.cdc.gov/ healthyweight/assessing//bmi/adult_bmi

Healthy People 2020. Retrieved on May 22, 2013 from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/ topicsobjectives2020/objectiveslist.aspx?topicId=29#140 National Institutes of Health (NIH). Retrieved on May 22, 2013 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ medlineplus/ency/article/007196.htm

Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). Native Hawaiian Data Book 2011. Retrieved on May 22, 2013 from http://www.ohadatabook.com/DB2011.html

State Department of Health, Hawaiʻi Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. Retrieved on May 22, 2013 from http://hawaii.gov/health/statistics/brfss/index.html

OHA Research Disclaimer. The data presented have been vetted for accuracy; however, there is no warranty that it is error-free. The data itself does not represent or confer any legal rights of any kind. Please use suggested citation and report discrepancies to the OHA Research Division.


OHA Health Indicator Sheets, Obesity 2012

OHA Native Hawaiian Health Fact Sheet 2011

For more interesting data relating to Ea, Governance, please see the OHA Native Hawaiian Data Book.