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Healthy Eating

"Healthy Eating" is about making choices to put in your body what it deserves.  To function at your best, we need nutrients from a variety of food sources.  In Colorado, the Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program helps bring together private sector, public and non-profit efforts around "healthy eating."  To promote healthy eating, together, the Program and itsCoalition have developed and are implementing the Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition State Plan that promotes healthy eating and physical activity in order to successfully prevent and reduce overweight, obesity, and related chronic diseases.



One of COPAN's main objectives is to increase physical activity in Colorado. Physical activity is a healthy practice that strengthens muscles and bones, improves the pumping ability of the heart, boosts the immune system, and strengthens nearly every other system of the body.


Physical activity also helps prevent overweight and obesity. In 2000, 61 percent of United States adults and 50 percent of Colorado adults were overweight or obese. Weight is gained when energy consumption exceeds energy expenditure. This means that when we consume more calories (through eating) than we burn (through physical activity and metabolism), we gain weight. More vigorous physical activity burns calories at a higher rate than less vigorous physical activity.  There is often a misconception that physical activity means exercise.  Physical activity may include brisk walking, pushing a stroller, housecleaning, mowing the lawn, or walking up a flight of stairs instead of taking an elevator.  Be sure to consult a physician before beginning a new physical activity program.

The Surgeon General recommends that all American adults receive 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week and that children and adolescents receive 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.

Healthy People 2010, a statement of national health objectives designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to health and to establish national goals to reduce these threats, has set several objectives to increases physical activity in the United States.


  • Reduce the proportion of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity to 20 percent by 2010. 

  • Increase the proportion of adults who engage regularly, preferably daily, in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day to 30 percent by 2010. 

  • Increase the proportion of adults who engage in vigorous physical activity that promotes the development and maintenance of cardiorespiratory fitness 3 or more days per week for 20 or more minutes per occasion to 30 percent by 2010.

The following chart shows physical activity baseline data for adults both from Colorado and the entire nation.





No leisure-time activity



Moderate physical activity for 30 min+, x 5 per week



Vigorous physical activity for 20 min+, x 3 per week




Colorado data from BRFSS 2000; U.S. data from NHANES 1997

Two important components of any physical activity routine are strength training and stretching.  Strength training strengthens muscles and bones, and helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis.  Strength training also reduces the risk of injuries from falls in older adults, and is a safe and healthful activity for adults of all ages when done properly.


Stretching improves flexibility, allows greater freedom of movement, and reduces the risk of injury.  Stretching should be performed once muscles are loose and warm.  Light walking while gently swinging the arms in a circle may be done to warm up muscles.  Stretching should be done before and after any physical activity, and may even be performed during physical activity.  Care should be taken to insure that correct form is used during stretching (for example, it is more safe and effective to hold a stretch than to bounce).  Appropriate strength training and stretching activities and techniques can be recommended by a physician, certified personal trainer, or other qualified health professionals.

Evaluation refers to the collection of information about how activities were implemented and whether the activities changed knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, or policies around obesity, physical activity, or nutrition. This information is used to make decisions about program changes and improvements. Examples of evaluation strategies include: brief surveys of persons who have used COPAN resource kits; tests of knowledge for persons who have attended a COPAN training; interviews with COPAN task force members regarding task force operations; and an examination of breastfeeding rates and attitudes among women who received specific breastfeeding promotion information and incentives.

Surveillance refers to the ongoing systematic collection and analysis of data about a disease, condition, or risk factor. Specifically, COPAN monitors data on obesity, overweight, levels of physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and breastfeeding. These data are collected through several statewide surveys:




Analysis of health status information collected through these surveys indicates Colorado's progress toward achieving COPAN's program outcomes and meeting the national Healthy People 2010 Objectives.



Overweight and Obesity Quick Facts:


The Surveillance and Evaluation Task Force is made up of individuals and organizations that share the common goal of improving physical activity and nutrition interventions through collection and analysis of information on health status and program activities. The Task Force provides guidance and direction to COPAN's surveillance and evaluation efforts and assists in identifying additional sources of data for monitoring obesity, physical activity, and nutrition in Colorado.