LiveWell Colorado just completed a statewide marketing research survey that shows Coloradans have a difficult time accurately identifying obesity, especially when it comes to their own weight and lifestyle.  They also typically underestimate what it means to be obese or even overweight and as a result many don’t realize that their weight puts them at risk for chronic disease.  Because people don’t think obesity is relevant to them, many don’t see obesity as a problem they need to personally address.

It’s not surprising that people’s view of obesity is skewed by the images they see on the news and on TV programs like NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  Most of these images are of morbidly obese individuals, overshadowing the fact that nearly 55 percent of Colorado adults and more than a quarter of our children are overweight or obese. This misperception helps explain why many people are not more motivated to make healthy changes, and we hope we can now address that more successfully through our upcoming culture change campaign.

The research also showed that while most Coloradans think they eat healthily and exercise enough, they do not think their friends are doing nearly as well ‚Äì making obesity “someone else’s problem.” For example, well over half of survey participants said they and their children eat enough fruits and vegetables each day and get enough physical activity, but thought only one-third of their friends were doing as well.

To compare, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s “Weight of the State” report, fewer than 10 percent of Colorado’s children eat vegetables at least two to three times a day, and about one quarter of adults eat the recommended five servings per day. Fifty five percent of adults and children reported getting the recommended amount of physical activity, according to that report.

According to the survey data, mothers of young children are most concerned about obesity and receptive to healthy messages.  They are also shown to be the most likely to agree that they, as parents, are responsible for solving the obesity problem in Colorado.

We commissioned this research to better understand what would motivate Coloradans to make healthy changes and drive a culture change around health.It’s exciting to learn that once mothers connect to obesity personally and understand that they and their families are at risk, they are much more motivated to make changes in their homes and communities.

The research was conducted by HealthCare Research in preparation for an upcoming mass media and grass roots campaign designed to motivate healthy changes in an effort to reduce and prevent obesity in Colorado. The campaign is scheduled to launch in April. To learn more about the research study, sign up to attend a free online webinar on March 1, 2011 at noon, MST at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/453384842