Weigh in on The Weight of the Nation

By Maren Stewart, President and CEO of LiveWell Colorado- Denver
Posted

Last month, LiveWell Colorado had the privilege of partnering with Kaiser Permanente, the Colorado Health Foundation, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in hosting the Denver premier of HBO’s documentary, The Weight of the Nation, a new four-part video documentary series examining the forces propelling obesity in our country.

The documentary series airs exclusively on HBO starting in mid-May, and we were especially excited to be the first city in America to premier one of the films at this event. Hundreds of Coloradans, including business people, healthcare professionals, families and students, came together at the University of Denver Cable Center for a fun and informative health expo, the film premier and a lively town hall discussion regarding this important issue.

Some people may be surprised that Denver was chosen for the premier of the documentary since Colorado is the “leanest” state in the nation. While this is true, we must put this distinction in context.

We are a lean state in an increasingly fat nation. In fact, according to the 2011 Colorado Health Report Card, which was recently released by our partners at the Colorado Health Foundation, the obesity rate for Colorado adults (18 – 64) has risen from just below 20 percent to 22 percent in the last year. With this increase, Colorado is no longer the only state with an obesity rate below 20 percent – something that was often previously touted. Further, our current adult obesity rate would have made Colorado the “fattest” state in 1995.

And our children are faring even worse. With a dismal ranking of 23rd in the nation, Colorado’s childhood obesity rate is rising at the second-fastest rate of increase in the nation.

These alarming statistics clearly show our dire need to attract attention to and support for this grave epidemic. At LiveWell Colorado, we are thrilled that The Weight of The Nation is helping to intensify the focus on obesity.

During the premier of the film Challenges, viewers were exposed to an eye-opening look at the numerous factors contributing to the rising rates of obesity in the U.S. The film powerfully captures the complexity of the forces driving obesity and validates LiveWell Colorado’s convergence approach, working collaboratively across sectors to make systemic and sustainable change.

During the town hall discussion, members of the audience discussed both obstacles to and opportunities for combating obesity in our state and nation. I was thrilled to see so many high school students in the audience who are interested in playing an active role in addressing childhood obesity.

If you were not able to attend The Weight of the Nation event, there are still several ways in which you can participate:

  • Watch a recording of the town hall discussion to hear opinions from local health experts and members of the community. Afterward, share your knowledge and perspectives with others in your personal and professional networks and encourage them to get involved.
  • Sign-up to receive a screening kit that includes a copy of the fourth film Challenges, in addition to tips for hosting a local screening to help build awareness about and tackle the obesity epidemic in your community.
  • Plan a screening of the film at your child’s school, your workplace, your local library or your recreation center.

Obesity weighs on all of us – threatening all Coloradans, our way of life and our state’s economic prosperity. Obesity doesn’t just impact our waistlines, it impacts our health, our schools, our communities, our workforce and our bottom line.

Thank you for engaging in this critical issue and doing your part to ensure the health and prosperity of our great state.

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