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Colorado Ranked Leanest State, but Obesity Still Troubles Health Officials

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Nolan O'Brien
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A new study ranks Colorado as the least obese state in the nation.  But the good news is tempered by obesity rates that have been rising nationwide.

Two public health groups, the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looked at state-by-state statistics from the last two decades. Their findings point to a nation that’s steadily growing more obese.

Every state but Colorado now has an obesity rate above 20%. And a dozen states – mostly in the South – have rates of 30% or higher. 

State health officials say despite Colorado being ranked the leanest state, the overall growth in obesity is still troubling.  

“We started off the leanest when they started looking at this 15 years ago, and we still are; but we’ve grown since then, more than we’d like to,” says Chris Lindley, Director of the Prevention Services Division for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  “We’d like to turn back the rate of growth and level it off, and actually start bringing it down.”

In 1995, no state was above 20% – and Colorado’s current rate of 19.8% would have been the highest in the nation then. This year, Mississippi topped the list for the seventh year in a row, with Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia close behind. No state decreased its level of obesity, which is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more, based on weight and height.

As host of KUNC's Colorado Edition, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. And because life is best when it's a balance of work and play, I love finding stories that highlight culture, music, the outdoors, and anything that makes Colorado such a great place to live.
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