Barb Parnell: Fight obesity


— Colorado is officially the leanest state in the nation, with a 19.8 percent adult obesity rate, according to the “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future” report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health released in July.

But before we throw ourselves a congratulatory party, a deeper look at the data shows a celebration is definitely not in order. Consider the following facts:

■ In every part of the country, including Colorado, people considered to be a healthy weight are now in the minority.

■ Colorado’s obesity rate has nearly doubled in the past 15 years.

■ Today, one in five Coloradans are obese and 56.2 percent are either overweight or obese.

■ With a 19.8 percent obesity rate, our state would have been the most obese state in the nation in 1995.

■ In Routt County, our student obesity rate ranges from 13 to 33 percent.

The report shows that among ethnic populations, disparities are strong. Colorado African-American and Latino populations have obesity rates of 27.9 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively, as compared to whites, at 18.3 percent.

We don’t need a party — we need a gut check, both literally and figuratively.

Fortunately, a movement to turn the tide of obesity has already begun in Colorado, including right here in Routt County — LiveWell Northwest Colorado. Several organizations, including the Colorado Health Foundation, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Kaiser Permanente, and LiveWell Colorado are partnering with others throughout the state to inspire sustainable individual behavior change and improve Coloradans’ access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity — two vital strategies to prevent and reduce obesity.

LiveWell Northwest Colorado is partnering with the three school districts to promote healthier foods and to increase physical activity during the school day. Partnerships with Oak Creek to provide trails and a new park, a disc golf course in Hayden and a Yampa River Core Trail wayfinding program in Steamboat Springs to promote physical activity among residents. The Steamboat Pilot & Today is partnering with LiveWell Northwest Colorado to provide a weekly “Stepping Out in Routt” series this summer. Looking ahead to 2012, we plan to promote a community challenge to encourage residents of Routt County to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Since LiveWell Colorado launched its culture change campaign one month ago, Coloradans have calculated more than 100,000 “gut checks” at to find out how healthy they are at their current weight and learn simple ways to make better choices. As more Coloradans and more residents of Routt County become aware that obesity is not someone else’s problem, they are adopting healthier habits and will eventually engage in policy efforts to make environments more conducive to those healthy habits.

Being dubbed the leanest state in a nation where adult obesity rates did not decline in any state last year, and in fact increased in 16 states, is a dubious honor. However, it does present Colorado and LiveWell Northwest Colorado with the opportunity to build on the momentum already underway and establish a successful obesity prevention model for other states to emulate.

Barb Parnell

LiveWell Northwest Colorado community coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association


sashas 5 years, 8 months ago

Why is it that all these organizations need to ban together to help fight obesity? This is a common sense. I'm sorry, but most people are just a bunch of idiots. Go outside and play and eat healthy! All we have is a bunch of braindead morons soaking up the TV, while throwing back a soda filled with high fructose corn syrup and snacks filled with a bunch of preservatives. And why is everyone so braindead? Because they don't research things and come to their own conclusions; because they sit in front of the TV and believe everything the talking heads say as their souls get sucked out of their body; because they drink the fluoridated water of Steamboat Springs; because they consume all the packaged foods; because they breathe the air with all the chemical trails; because they are de-evolving because people just don't give a crap about anything!


sledneck 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought kids were going to bed hungry? Guess that was only under a republican administration. Now they are all fat! So if everybody is too fat can we cut the food-stamp programs?... At least until the president is a republican again when kids will, once again, be starving in the streets??? And if we all need more excercise why the 99 weeks of unemployment for all the fat-asses to sit around gettin fatter?


kathy foos 5 years, 8 months ago

Good comment sashas,very true.I have one more thing to add.I think you will find the poor people aren't so fat.I don't know how anyone can afford it.If you work hard in anyway,its exercise and it keeps you from getting fat(except for some who have health problem,they cannot help the weight problem,please don't be mean to them).With the price of food and as hard as it is to get a job,THAT keeps me thin .There are more parents going to bed hungry(lets hope) than the children.I have seen documentarys where people cannot feed the familys well and pay the bills,so the kids should be fed first.It's just odd to hear people talk of obesity like its all a choice.Sometime's I like to put on a couple of pounds if I can afford it,I know I will probably be out of work and need the fat to survive.Its not very often I can afford throw on those few pounds,and they are never on long.I say people that have the money get fat,and those that dont care and have money just pig out.So I guess its better for your body to be broke.Thanks to the economy,many of us poor people are blessed with a popular thin look.Whoopee!


cara marrs 5 years, 8 months ago

I am in the health care field and I would have to argue that the lower the economic status in many areas of the country the higher the weight. It is partly because of the quality (re: chemically laden, processed, altered foods no where close to their natural state) that they have access to and partly because of lack of education. In the general public the lower the economic status, the higher the obesity rate, period. I agree people need to get Moving, our culture (as a whole, Steamboat is obviously not a typical cross section of the country when we are speaking of health) has produced a generation of inactivity for adults and children.


OnTheBusGus 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, many studies have shown that lower income people are fatter than wealthier people. This is mostly due to the easy availability of cheap fast food ($5 Taco Bell meals, dollar menus) and the soaring cost of fresh produce over processed foods (120% vs 50% increase over the last decade). The food stamp dollar goes further with processed food instead of fresh produce. Some reading on the subject:


sashas 5 years, 8 months ago

Sorry to sound so mean in my first post; however, I do feel like people are braindead. Like most, I cannot affort to buy organic foods unless they are on sale and even other foods unless they're on sale. The only problem with organic is that, like any other foods, GMOs do not have to be labeled. We need to shop smart. Buy quantity when on sale and freeze it. Or buy a food dehydrator and start drying foods. This will allow you to have food stashed away to eat when prices skyrocket even more. For example, you can get some cilantro for 30 cents, dry it, and have tastier coriander for less money on hand. Make your own bread. It's super easy after you've made a few loaves. You don't get any of the horrible ingredients, and you also have tasty fresh bread. Plus, it saves you money; a triple pack of yeast is less than $2, and you can get six loaves of bread out of it! Can seasonal foods or anything that's on sale. I have tons of pickled beans, jalepenos, eggs, jelly, etc. One thing I will spend the money on is raw milk, which you can get at the Moonhill Dairy or from Eugene every other Monday from 9:30am-11:30am at the Bamboo Market. He will be there on Monday, August 22nd. I do not trust all the additives in pasteurized milk and refuse to give it to my son. Anyway, there are ways to make smart food choices in an effort to be a healthy individual. I truly think that processed packaged foods eliminate proper brain activity, and that's part of the reason people are so braindead.


bobnbobber 5 years, 8 months ago

McDonald's cheese burgers are cheaper and more convenient than a turkey sandwich & apple. Thanks for all the great ideas, sounds like effort needs to be made to eat healthy...i don't even feel like getting out of my car to eat lunch. What else can I say, fat lazy nation.


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