The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health just released a report titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, which warns that the number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and health care costs, are on course to increase dramatically in every part of the country, including Colorado.

Although Colorado once again remains the “leanest state,” more than 20 percent of adults in Colorado are obese, and the report estimates that all 50 states could have obesity rates above 44 percent by 2030. 

The statistics in this report paint a potentially bleak picture of our country’s and state’s future and show the urgency with which we must address this growing epidemic.

Obesity is an issue that must be tackled now or the ramifications will impact not only our waistlines but also our bottom lines.

Obesity weighs on all of us. And the only way we’re going to tip our scales back to collective health is to be collaborative, proactive and diligent across many sectors. We all have a role to play. Individuals must adopt healthier, sustainable behaviors; school, worksites and communities must provide opportunities for healthy eating and active living; and elected officials must support policies that promote and encourage health.

Fortunately, we can reverse these devastating trends and ensure a successful future that isn’t weighed down by the many negative and costly effects of obesity. 

According to the F as in Fat Report, decreasing the average BMI of adults by only 5 percent could save nearly every state between 6.5 percent and 7.9 percent in health care costs. Specifically, Colorado could save more than $10 billion by 2030. 

At LiveWell Colorado, we know that it is possible to make a difference in our homes, schools, worksites and communities. For example, we are proud to partner with school nutrition staff at more than 67 school districts across the state to help them prepare fresh, healthy meals from scratch. Through the passage and implementation of HB11-1069, public elementary schools are now required to provide our children the physical activity necessary for their growing minds and bodies. These are long-term, sustainable changes that can prevent obesity in our future workforce.

I challenge each person reading this to adopt one new healthy habit and take that first step toward helping Colorado save more lives and millions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs.

The fight against obesity is a battle for our health – both physical and fiscal – and ultimately for our future. Colorado deserves better than the title of ‘best of the worst.’