Get the Facts
Health Issues in Colorado
The Colorado Paradox
While Colorado has a reputation for being the “healthiest state,” we also suffer from what is often called the Colorado Paradox: Our state’s great quality of life attracts healthy, educated adults yet we struggle to provide that same healthy environment for many Coloradans, including children born and raised here. Let’s take a look at some of the statistics around Colorado’s health environment today:
- 57% of Colorado adults and 27% of our children are overweight or obese.[i]
- For the past two decades, adult obesity in Colorado has been increasing at a steady pace–with a rate that more than tripled from 1990 (6.9%) to 2014 (21.3%).
- In fact, the current obesity rate of 21.3%, which makes Colorado the leanest state today, would have ranked us as the heaviest state in the nation as recently as 1995.[ii]
- And it could get much worse. If current trends continue, 45% of Colorado adults will be obese by 2030.[iii]
- Coloradans are significantly impacted by the problem of obesity, with growing waistlines driving growing financial and human costs for the state.
- In 2009 alone, Colorado spent more than $1.6 billion treating diseases and conditions related to obesity.[iv]
- Limiting obesity could save Colorado billions of dollars. A 5% reduction in average body mass index (BMI) for Colorado adults could save the state more than $10 billion by 2030.[v]
- Colorado Medicaid expenses due to obesity were more than $300 million in 2009.[vi]
- Colorado children are vulnerable to obesity and related health problems.
- More than a quarter of Colorado children are overweight or obese[vii] and that increases their likelihood of suffering from health problems like high blood pressure and prediabetes symptoms in the near term.
- Obesity in youth also increases their likelihood of being overweight or obese as adults, which can lead to a host of chronic health problems[viii] like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and even depression.[ix]
Why Physical Activity and Nutrition Matter
- Health is not just something we get at the doctor’s office. The conditions at work, home, and school have a big impact, and many people face barriers that prevent them from making healthy choices.
- Our health is determined by many complex and interconnected factors. It’s estimated that social circumstances, environmental conditions and behavior choices determine the majority (60%) of a person’s health status, as compared to the influence of genetics (30%) and health care (10%).[x]
- Poor diet and physical inactivity cause an estimated 18% of U.S. deaths. Approximately 400,000 U.S. deaths per year can be attributed to poor diet and activity patterns that contribute to chronic diseases.[xi]
Facts About Youth Physical Activity
- Colorado ranks 24th in the nation for our children’s level of physical activity with nearly 55% of kids not getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week.[xiii]
- 30 percent of Colorado kids live in neighborhoods without parks, community centers and/or safe sidewalks, limiting their ability to be physically active. [xiv]
- Colorado is one of only three states where physical education is not a required part of our state’s public school curriculum at the elementary, middle or secondary level.
- Because kids spend the majority of their days in school, there is potential to improve the health of Colorado’s youth by working with schools, school districts, and the state to increase the amount of physical activity that kids get each school day.
Facts About Youth Nutrition
- 30% of Colorado communities lack access to healthy food retail options[xv]
- In 2009, $1.7 billion was spent on marketing unhealthy foods and drinks to U.S. kids, compared to just $280 million promoting healthy food to kids.[xvi]
- A recent survey showed that 55% of Colorado middle- and- high school and middle school students had not eaten a single serving of fruits or vegetables over the past seven days.[xvii]Because kids spend the majority of most days in school, there is potential to improve the health of Colorado’s youth by working with schools, school districts and the state to increase the amount of nutritious food that kids get at school.
- Denver Public Health has published a “Rethink Your Drink” Sugary Beverage Public Information Campaign Partner Toolkit
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has created an infographic that pulls together various health indicators in the state.
- The Colorado Health Report Card also aggregates multiple data sets around health in the state.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the latest statistics, surveillance systems, state indicator reports and maps related to obesity.
[i] Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado Child Health Survey 2014 Snapshot Report.” http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/topics.aspx?q=Maternal_Child_Health_Data
[iii] The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America,” a report released by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. http://healthyamericans.org/report/115/
[iv] Trogdon, JG et al. “State- and payer-specific estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity.” Obesity, Volume 19, Issue 6. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2011.169/epdf
[v] Trogdon, JG et al. “State- and payer-specific estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity.” Obesity, Volume 19, Issue 6. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2011.169/epdf
[vi] Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado’s Child Health Survey.” 2013. http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/Resources/mchdata/2013CHS.pdf
[vii] Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado Child Health Survey 2014 Snapshot Report.” http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/topics.aspx?q=Maternal_Child_Health_Data
[viii] Freedman, DS et al. Cardiovascular risk factors for excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2007, Volume 150 p.12-17
[ix] “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future.” Trust for America’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, September 2012. http://healthyamericans.org/report/100/.
[x] McGinnis, J. Michael et al. “The Case for More Active Policy Attention to Health Promotion.” Health Affairs. March 2002 vol. 21 no. 278-93. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/21/2/78.full?sid=beedf7a8-06f5-4010-985c-36a545486adb.
[xi] Measuring the Risks and Causes of Premature Death: Summary of Workshops.
Committee on Population; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; Board on Health Care Services; National Research Council; Institute of Medicine.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Feb 24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279981/
[xii] Institute of Medicine. “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Education and Physical Activity to School.” 2013. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2013/Educating-the-Student-Body-Taking-Physical-Activity-and-Physical-Education-to-School.aspx
[xiii] Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado’s Child Health Survey.” 2014 Snapshot. http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/Resources/mchdata/CHS/Colorado%20Child%20Health%20Survey%202014%20Snapshot.pdf
[xiv] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Colorado Action Guide for the State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2014”
[xv] Census tract data. Grimm KA, Moore LV, Scanlon KS. Access to healthier food retailers – United States, 2011. MMWR 2013;62(03):20-26
[xvii] Healthy Eating & Active Living Among Youth in Colorado, Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 2015. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/PF_Youth_HEAL-Infographic.pdf