Coloradans fittest in U.S., but Mesa County obesity rate higher than state’s

Dr. Gary Wilson of Grand Junction puts some miles on a treadmill at Gold’s Gym. He has recently lost 25 lbs.

Colorado still reigns as the most svelte state, but Mesa County residents could stand to lose some weight, according to recent surveys.

A report released Wednesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation cites Colorado’s obesity rate as the nation’s lowest, at 18.9 percent. In comparison, Mississippi again topped the country’s scales with 32.5 percent of obese adults.

Despite living in the skinniest state, 24.2 percent of Mesa County residents are obese, higher than the state’s average, according to a community health assessment conducted by the county’s health department.

“While the state seems to be doing well, Mesa County could be doing a little better,” said spokeswoman Kristy Emerson of the Mesa County Health Department.

The county survey, which was conducted in late 2008, polled 1,000 residents of all ages and demographics, Emerson said.

“I think Colorado is known for a lot of active lifestyles and encourages people to use trails, hike and bike,” she said. “The scary part is 61.7 percent of Mesa County adults are considered overweight.”

Being overweight or obese is a concern because it can be a precursor to a number of diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as limit a person’s activity level.

Nearly half — 47.6 percent — of Mesa County residents polled reported that they participated in regular, sustained, moderate or vigorous activity, or in other words, were getting some kind of regular exercise.

Grand Junction resident Meredith Swett, who was walking Wednesday afternoon with her dog and a friend along the riverfront bike path, said warm summer temperatures make it difficult to work out during the day.

“I got up for a run at 6:30,” she said.

However, she said, many of her friends are active, and are often hiking and biking in the areas around town.

Colorado’s obesity rate is followed by Massachusetts at 21.2 percent and Connecticut at 21.3 percent. Colorado has the lowest rate of fat baby boomers, 21.8 percent.


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