Steamboat Springs Despite its reputation for being home to residents with healthy lifestyles, Colorado is losing ground to a more sedentary way of life.
"Coloradans are gaining excessive weight and becoming less physically active at a rate on par with national trends," said Gordan Thibedeau, executive director of the Fort Collins Area United Way.
A nonprofit organization in the state is launching an effort to counter such negative health trends among Colorado residents.
The Colorado Trust created the Colorado Healthy People 2010 Initiative to address 10 major health concerns in the state that include substance abuse, access to health care and environmental quality.
The initiative will provide $7.5 million in grants over the next 3 1/2 years to help people in Colorado meet the objectives for health promotion and disease prevention posed by the national Healthy People 2010 program.
The Colorado Trust divided the state into five regions that focus on different health concerns and assigned a regional coordinator to each region.
Up to 10 community organizations in each region will receive grants and technical assistance up to $40,000 annually for three years from The Colorado Trust to help them implement the programs they propose.
The Fort Collins Area United Way was named the coordinating agency for Region 1, which covers Northwest Colorado and includes Routt County.
Obesity/overweight issues and the lack of physical activity will be the focus of Region 1 participants.
Organizations in Routt County hope to improve their chances of getting the financial backing of The Colorado Trust by collaborating on ideas for community-based projects that would help curb the trend of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, said Debbie Alpe with the Extension Office.
The groups that have recently come together to brainstorm ideas for a proposal decided they had a better shot at funding by combining ideas than submitting separate proposals, she said.
Candyce Bongiorno, fund-raising specialist with the Yampa Valley Health Care Foundation, said collaborators represent young and old interests in the community.
Organizations in Routt County interested in jointly proposing solutions to obesity and overweight issues and the lack of physical activity include school districts, the Routt County Council on Aging, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, the city of Steamboat Springs, the Colorado State Cooperative Extension Office and other groups.
"We're talking about a comprehensive program for every age group," Bongiorno said.
"We need to look at every aspect within every organization to see how we can all promote a more healthy lifestyle."
The groups involved want more than a Band-Aid fix, she said.
Something like a push for people to lose weight will not provide a lasting solution. A more long-term approach that encourages lifestyle changes is more sustainable, she said.
"This is the beginning of a really great team effort," she said.
Proposals are due in the Fort Collins Area United Way office July 11.
No proposal is guaranteed funding, Alpe said, but regardless of the outcome, she is happy a partnership has been formed among different organizations in Routt County to begin addressing what has been referred to as an epidemic in the United States.
Although Colorado currently has the lowest prevalence of overweight and obese residents in the nation, the rate of increase is the same as the rest of the nation, according to national surveys.