Obesity clearly affects our waistlines, but it also affects our bottom lines. That is why focusing on and investing in prevention is so critical.

The Colorado Health Foundation, one of our partners and funders, recently released its 2011 Colorado Health Report Card, which assesses 38 health indicators across five life stages: Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Children, Healthy Adolescents, Healthy Adults, and Healthy Aging. Unfortunately, neither childhood nor adult obesity rates have improved since the previous report.

Colorado again ranks 23rd in childhood obesity and since last year, Colorado’s adult obesity rate has climbed to 22 percent. With this increase, Colorado can no longer claim to be the only state with an adult obesity rate under 20 percent. We still may be the “leanest” state, but we certainly need to put this in context. As one of our partners recently said, “We’re the leanest state in a fat nation.”

LiveWell Colorado applauds this year’s Health Report Card supplement, focused on prevention as an investment in Colorado’s future health. In addition to the health-related reasons for preventing obesity, there are compelling economic reasons as well. We know that preventing obesity will save a substantial amount of money. In 2009, Colorado spent $1.637 billion treating diseases and conditions related to obesity. Fortunately, prevention can help decrease this number in the future. For example, according to a study cited in the Health Report Card, every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs translates into $3.27 in savings.

I encourage you to read the Health Report Card and supplement. While we admittedly have a long way to go, collectively focusing on prevention will ensure that Colorado is indeed the healthiest state in the nation.