Colorado Is the Least Obese U.S. State, Study Finds

Colorado Is the Least Obese U.S. State, Study Finds
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A comprehensive new study finds that Colorado is the least obese state in the country. This benchmark was accomplished thanks to low levels in every demographic category, including age and ethnicity, and a high level of daily physical activity among children and teens.

In addition, the Colorado county of Eagle was found to have the lowest level of obesity of any American community analyzed.

The report, "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America," is the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health, and as its title implies, its authors offer a slew of recommendations intended to stem this growing health issue.

Here are seven examples:
• Support and expand policies and programs aimed at addressing obesity at the federal, state and community levels, including programs in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, and community health programs like the Racial and Ethnic Approaches for Community Health program (REACH), and programs that focus on school health in CDC’s Division of Population Health.

• Maintain and strengthen essential nutrition supports for low-income children, families and individuals through programs — like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and expand programs and pilots to make healthy food more available and affordable through the program.

• Maintain nutrition standards for school meals that were in effect prior to USDA’s interim final rule from November 2017, as well as current nutrition standards for school snacks.

• States should ensure that all students receive at least 60 minutes of physical education or activity during each school day.

• Medicare should encourage eligible beneficiaries to enroll in obesity counseling as a covered benefit, and evaluate its use and effectiveness. Health plans, medical schools, continuing medical education, and public health departments should raise awareness about the need and availability of these services.

• Food and beverage companies should eliminate children’s exposure to advertising and marketing of unhealthy products.

• Hospitals should no longer sell or serve sugary drinks on their campuses; they should also improve the nutritional quality of meals and promote breastfeeding.
The problem in this state is much less acute than in the nation as a whole. Indeed, Colorado is one of just two states (Hawaii is the other) with adult obesity rates below 25 percent in 2017, coming in at 22.6 percent. By comparison, nineteen states had adult obesity rates in the 25 to 30 percent range, while 22 landed between 30 and 35 percent.

Note that the 38.1 percent obesity rate for adult residents of West Virginia was nearly 70 percent higher than Colorado's.

The report points out that nearly 800 of 3,000 counties in the U.S. have self-reported adult obesity rates at or above that 35 percent mark. The highest: Macon County in Alabama, with 48 percent. The lowest: Eagle County, at 13 percent.

Colorado also has the lowest obesity level among high school students: just 9.5 percent, less than half that of the lowest finisher, Arkansas, which came in at 21.7 percent.

Continue to see Colorado's data related to obesity and overweight rates. The numbers top out at 51 because Washington, D.C., was included — and the higher the ranking, the better. By the way, "CI," or "confidence indicator," represents "a numerical range used to describe research data." That's followed by a link to the complete report, which echoes previous studies related to Colorado and obesity.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts