Monday, September 21, 2015

Colorado obesity rate lowest in nation, but one in five Coloradans is obese

DENVER -- While Colorado continues to be the leanest state in the nation, one in five Coloradans is obese. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado’s 2014 adult obesity rate was 21.3 percent, unchanged from 2013.
Colorado, like most of the nation, saw its obesity rate increase steadily for the past two decades and only recently begin to level off. But the number of obese Coloradans remains high among the state’s minority populations. In 2014, 30.5 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 28 percent of Hispanics were obese, ranking 9th and 16th in the nation for obesity, respectively.
“It’s time to lower our obesity rates, so we all can enjoy optimal health,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are committed to working with communities across Colorado to make sure every Coloradan has easy access to healthy, affordable food and places to be active.”

Nearly one in three Coloradans doesn’t live close enough to a grocery store that offers healthy food and has to travel more than a mile in urban areas and 10 miles in rural areas to buy fresh produce and other nutritious food. The state health department and its partners work to make the healthy choice the easy choice by improving healthy food and beverage options at state agencies, worksites, schools, corner stores and hospitals. State and local health agencies are working with hospitals statewide on the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact to improve healthy food and beverage options for patients, visitors and staff.
Likewise, nearly one of three Coloradans doesn’t have easy access to safe sidewalks, parks or community centers. The state health department and its partners work to ensure all Coloradans have the opportunity to walk, bike and recreate in their neighborhoods. The department provided initial funding and continues to provide technical assistance to Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities and Towns. The initiative, a partnership between LiveWell Colorado and the Colorado Municipal League, works with city officials to improve access to physical activity and healthy food.
The health department is aligning its activities with state and national initiatives to promote walking and cycling. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently announced a $100 million investment in making Colorado “the best state for biking” by working to improve and expand the state’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure. The state health department is working with the governor’s office, other state agencies and the Colorado Pedals Project partners to promote the health benefits of cycling and walking and help ensure access to all Coloradans.
The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a call to action to promote walking and walkable communities. Research shows walking is the easiest way for most people to get the physical activity they need to reduce weight and address other risk factors related to heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. As part of this effort, the department recently hosted a Colorado Walking workshop with health experts, other state agencies, students, elected officials, community groups and Walk Colorado to develop a plan to increase walking, bicycling and transit across Colorado.

The Colorado Health Institute just released “Reaching our Peak 2015: A Scorecard for a Healthy Colorado,” which describes much of the work going on statewide to improve community access to healthy food and beverages.

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