In the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity. More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) and 17% of children (2-18 years) are obese. Obesity increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of which are the leading causes of preventable death.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Dupage County, Forward Together We Will Coalition meeting. This program is comprised of leaders in communities, schools, healthcare, faith, and businesses that aim to combat the obesity epidemic by changing policies and environment so children and families in Dupage County Illinois can have and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Where does Colorado stand with obesity?
While Colorado may be touted as America’s “leanest” state, we are not immune to the growing prevalence of obesity.
- 58% of Colorado adults are overweight and obese and 21.3% are obese.
- If trends continue, only 33% of Colorado adults will be a healthy weight by 2020.
- Although we are the leanest state, a significant proportion of the population is overweight or obese.
- 23% of Colorado children (ages 2-14) are overweight or obese.
- With a ranking of 23rd in the nation, Colorado’s childhood obesity rate is rising at the second-fastest rate of increase in the nation.
In 2009, Colorado spent $1.637 billion treating diseases and conditions related to obesity.
LiveWell Colorado aims to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. Some of the initiatives includes but not limited to:
- Farm to school aims to connect school’s, including students, staff, and parents, to healthy, local foods by using local foods and providing food and nutrition education.
- The Colorado Safe Routes aims to maximize and promote opportunities for children to safely walk and bike to and from school.
- Denver Urban Gardens addresses the socio-economic barriers to accessing healthy,
affordable food and receiving nutrition and gardening education. Three target areas are Baker, La Alma/Lincoln Park, and Sun Valley neighborhoods, which are diverse, lower income neighborhoods with high need populations.
- Go, Slow, Whoa program is a cafeteria promotional program that encourages elementary children and parents to make healthy food choices in 18 Aurora Public Schools and 10 Cherry Creek Schools. In 2012, the schools earned the USDA Healthier US School Challenge Bronze Award.
- Food for Thought is a program designed to raise student awareness of the food system and how their food choices impact personal health as well as the world around them.
- DENVER B-CYCLE PARTNERSHIP, one of the largest country’s municipal bike sharing programs, provides bike access by getting people out of their cars to experience the city while being physically active. Low income residents can receive funding to participate in the program.
Over the course of the dietetic internship I have developed a passion for public health because these programs take risks, aim to educate and improve communities, address disparities, and are passionate to help those in need and make a difference. Check out what LiveWell Colorado is doing in your local community (or another program that takes to your liking). Not only can you benefit from the resources offered so you can live a healthy lifestyle, but get involved and support the initiatives so you can become the change you wish to see in the world!
By April Irvine