Emerging Issues

How to Use This Page

Learn more about the emerging issues for the following health focus areas:



Diabetes is predominately found in two forms: Type 1 and Type 2. Both are chronic conditions that have no cure, and require lifelong maintenance after diagnosis.

Issues regarding diabetes include:

  • Diabetes education, while available as a benefit through most forms of health insurance, is underutilized.
  • New interventions such as group self-management support or engagement of community health workers may be as—or even more—effective than older models of self-management education. However these new models are either not covered by health insurance or not paid for equally.
  • Evidence in both clinical trials and translational studies finds that onset of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle-change support by trained coaches and peer groups over the course of one year. However these programs are often not covered by insurance.



Morbid obesity, defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher, has major health and economic impacts. Studies have shown that risks of death and illness are greatly elevated among morbidly obese people, regardless of gender or race. Washington BRFSS data for 2012–2014 combined showed about 4% of adults reporting heights and weights indicating morbid obesity.

Morbid obesity varied by race, Hispanic origin, income and education in a similar manner to obesity, though results were unreliable for some sub-categories due to small numerators. Women (5%) had higher rates of morbid obesity than men (3%).


In the last several years, the emergence of electronic cigarettes and vapor products has caused serious concern in Washington State. Tobacco control stakeholders are concerned that electronic cigarettes/vapor products may re-normalize smoking in public places.

Recent studies have indicated that youth who use electronic cigarettes/vapor products are at increased risk of cigarette smoking. Furthermore, there is an emerging body of research indicating that electronic cigarettes/vapor products have unique health risks that are not yet completely understood.


Well-Child Visits

There is a low reimbursement rate for providers doing well child visits, and an increasing shortage of family physicians and pediatricians to provide them.  This is particularly acute in urban and rural areas as contrasted with suburban areas.  Additionally, there can be confusion between a complete well-child checkup and other medical care the child may have received.  Multi-sector partner efforts to raise awareness and understanding will be necessary to achieve progress in this area.


More Resources Available

Current Work and Initiatives

Health Equity Concerns

Key Data and Sources

Recommended Strategies


Contact Us

Contact us at P4IPH@doh.wa.gov.