Cafe Society

Colorado ranks lowest in obesity rate study: We're still the skinniest state

Those summer bike rides to the local farmers' market have apparently paid off. Once again, Colorado ranks lowest on the state-by-state adult obesity rate analysis, conducted by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Maybe it's because there are so many appealing outdoor activities, or maybe it's because part of our population consists of Olympic gold-medalists like Missy Franklin, who skew the average. Whatever the reason, the data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that Colorado has the country's lowest obesity rate, at 20.7 percent. On the other end of the spectrum is Mississippi, maintaining its reign as the most obese state with 34.9 percent.

According to a 2011 report by TFAH, here are some of the factors that might contribute to our state's low obesity rates:

  • Twenty states including Colorado now have school meal standards that are stricter than the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements.
  • Twenty-nine states including Colorado limit when and where competitive foods (foods and beverages sold outside of the formal meal programs, through à la carte lines, vending machines and school stores) may be sold beyond federal requirements.
  • Twenty-six states including Colorado have now established farm-to-school programs. Five years ago, only New York had a law establishing a farm-to-school program.
  • Sixteen states including Colorado now have Complete Streets laws. "Complete streets" are roads designed to allow all users -- bicyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and public transit users -- to access them safely. Seven years ago only five states had these laws.
But all the news isn't sunny. In the 2011 report, Colorado's obesity rate was 19.8 percent -- which means this state is getting fatter.

The full F as in Fat report will be released later this summer, complete with an analysis of what contributes to state obesity rates, the policies that try to address the issue, and recommendations to policy makers to reduce obesity in the country. It will also include a forecast for obesity rates in 2030.

With any luck that forecast won't have us in hover chairs and uni-color jumpsuits, like the futuristic human characters in Disney/Pixar's WALL-E.

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Nathalia Vélez
Contact: Nathalia Vélez