Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Colorado mounts turnaround after flunking on children’s health

Colorado is flunking when it comes to children’s health and it’s time to mount an aggressive turnaround campaign. That was one of the key lessons from the release last week of the annual Colorado Health Report Card.

Foundation CEO Anne Warhover announced that the foundation is funding a new position in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office: a state director of health and wellness. In an era when Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has become the de facto U.S. Surgeon General by combating everything from smoking to sugar-laden drinks and assault weapons, leadership from politicians can be vital in driving improvements in health. Hickenlooper often repeats the mantra that he wants Colorado to be the healthiest state in the nation. Now Ellen Robinson, whose family started Denver’s Robinson Dairy in 1885, will become the state’s new health and wellness director.

Her work will be challenging.

For years, Coloradans have been congratulating themselves because the state is the leanest in the nation. But, in fact, Colorado’s adult obesity rate has doubled in fewer than 20 years while child obesity rates continue to climb at one of the fastest clips in the nation.

Overall, when it comes to nurturing healthy children, the state declined from a C- in 2011 down to a D+ in 2012, where the state had hovered the previous two years. Pregnant moms and newborns fare only slightly better with consistently poor C grades, while adolescents, adults and seniors get Bs.

For this year’s report, study authors posed the question “What if Colorado were number 1?” Analysts at the Colorado Health Institute teamed with the Colorado Health Foundation and found that being No. 1 in 38 key health indicators would not only boost the physical and mental health of Coloradans, but would also save taxpayers and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars annually while helping to revive the economy.
                                                                                                                             -Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

For the rest of the story, go to Health Policy Solutions.

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