Support healthy weight of kids and adults

Why is this important to Colorado?

  • Although Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the nation, one in five adult Coloradans is considered obese, up from 6.9 percent in 1990.
  • The number of Coloradans with obesity remains high among the state’s minority populations. In 2016, 33.5 percent of Blacks and 26.9 percent of Hispanics had obesity.
  • Maternal obesity prior to pregnancy puts infants at increased risk for overweight. In 2016, 47.1 percent of Colorado mothers had overweight or obesity before pregnancy (Colorado Birth Certificate Data).
  • It is important to address this issue in Colorado because obesity is a leading cause of many life-threatening diseases like heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
  • Based on national estimates, 37 percent of adults have prediabetes or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Having overweight or obesity is a primary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • The economic costs of overweight and obesity are a significant burden on our healthcare system and economic output.
  • The annual national obesity-related medical costs have been estimated to be $147 billion.
  • Estimates of national productivity costs of obesity-related absenteeism range from $3.38 billion ($79 per individual with obesity) to $6.38 billion ($132 per individual with obesity).
  • Medical expenditures attributable to obesity in Colorado are estimated to exceed $1.6 billion each year.

How do we measure success?

We measure success through the Body Mass Index (BMI) for both adults and children in Colorado.

  • The percent of adults (aged 18+ years) who have a BMI ≥ 30 are considered to have obesity.
    • In 2013, Colorado had an obesity rate of 21.3 percent.  We measure success by preventing an increase and maintaining that rate at 21.3 percent. The rate increased to 22.3 percent based on 2016 data. (CDC annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey)
  • The percent of children (aged 2-4 years) who have a BMI ≥ 95th percentile are considered to have obesity.
    • In previous years, data were reported on a small sample of youth aged 5-12 years. Data is now reported from the Women, Infant, and Children Program which represents about larger sample, approximately 30,000 children.
    • As of 2016, 7.0 percent of low income children age 2-4 years in Colorado had obesity. We measure success by preventing an increase and maintaining that rate at 7.0 percent. (WIC data) 


Status Outcome Measure

Outcome Baseline

(June 2013)


(June 2016*)


(June 2017*)

Outcome Target Target Date
needs_improvement.png Percent of adults (aged 18+ years) who are obese (BMI > 30) 21.3% 20.2% 22.3% 21.3% 2018
on_track_2.png Obesity among low income children aged 2-4 years (> 95th percentile) 7.9% 7.3% 7.0% 7.0% 2018

Source: CDPHE, CDC annual BRFSS survey, USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children

*surveys conducted in the previous year

What actions are we taking?

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) works on a number of initiatives and collaborates with strategic partners to:

  • Provide I am Moving, I am Learning  training and coaching to promote developmentally appropriate physical activity practices and policies for facilities caring for children 5 years and younger.
  • Provide consistent early childhood obesity prevention messaging and educational materials to diverse sectors of community-based providers to engage and empower families and caregivers in behaviors that support achieving healthy weight in early childhood.
  • Provide technical assistance to Colorado hospitals to improve policies and processes that improve breastfeeding outcomes (Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative).
  • Provide professional development to teachers, administrators and others on creating healthy school environments.
  • Encourage school participation in the Healthy Schools Smart Source assessment.
  • Increase enrollment and engagement in the National Diabetes Prevention Program in order to improve Coloradans’ health and reduce health care costs.
  • Increase the number of people who have health insurance coverage for the National Diabetes Prevention Program to increase access to and enrollment in the program.
  • Promote and encourage participation in weight management programs for State of Colorado employees, one of the largest employers in the state.
  • Provide technical assistance to Colorado hospitals to improve policies and nutrition environments through the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact.
  • Increase the number of local government policies and environmental strategies to achieve safe, equitable access to physical activity through the built environment.