Study: Colorado’s Obesity Rate is on the Rise

September 28, 2012

A recent report shows Colorado on track to more than double its obesity rate within 20 years. That could mean billions of dollars more in health care costs unless the trend begins to reverse. Aspen Public Radio's Luke Runyon reports.

One out of every five adults in Colorado is obese now. Which doesn't sound great, but still gives the state the bragging right as the leanest in the country.

"To put it in perspective though, even that rate, which is the lowest in the country, would¿ve been the highest in country just 20 years ago."

Rich Hamburg is with the advocacy group Trust for America's Health, which compiled the report. He says even though Colorado is doing better compared to other states, it's on a trajectory to more than double the percentage of obese people by 2030, pushing Colorado closer to the pack of more obese states.

"Colorado's rate seems to be rising a bit faster. That might be a factor coming from being the lowest possible rate."

Hamburg says just a slight dip in body fat across the population could save more than 10 billion dollars in health care costs down the line.

State and federal officials have yet to find a singular solution to the crisis. The Colorado Health Institute's Sara Shmitt says to reverse the trend, there's been a large emphasis on children and schools.

"Because we do know that children that are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults."

Shmitt says some programs have shown success. Changes to school lunch menus have slowed weight gain in certain schools, and increased access to walking and biking trails has done the same in neighborhoods.

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