LiveWell puts emphasis on ways to get healthy food

Efforts to encourage people to live healthy lifestyles often include concise slogans such as “quit smoking” and “buckle up.”

But tackling the issue of obesity it a bit trickier. While maintaining healthy weight and exercising often is a personal responsibility, state and national leaders have identified disparity among residents’ access to healthy foods.

In an attempt to level the playing field, LiveWell Colorado recently released the Food Policy Blueprint, a document that identifies the state’s most urgent food policy needs and illustrates ways people can receive better access to healthy foods.

“Food is in every single environment,” said Lonna Lindsay, vice president of policy for nonprofit Livewell Colorado. “It’s a workplace issue, a school issue, a leisure time issue. We’re attempting to impact how people move their bodies and how they get access to healthy food. That means a different thing for you and me, and it’s different for people in an urban environment than a rural environment.”

LiveWell’s plan is focused on eight recommendations developed from the results of a statewide survey and meetings with various groups.

If followed, the suggestions would:

Make it easier for cities to have urban agriculture.

Increase enrollment in the federal food stamp program.

Make it more cost-effective for all food stores to carry healthy foods.

Increase the amounts of farm fresh foods in schools.

Ensure more children have access to healthy foods at schools.

While Colorado still is one of the nation’s thinner states, its residents’ waistbands are expanding.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the state’s obesity rate climbed faster than the country’s rate between 1995 and 2008. During that time, Colorado’s obesity rate climbed 89 percent, while the nation’s obesity rate climbed by 67 percent.

In 2003, the economic impact of the state’s obesity rate was estimated to cost taxpayers $874 million.

According to LiveWell, the Food Policy Blueprint offers solutions for increasing access to healthy food for all residents of the state.

To help meet that goal, LiveWell is pressing for the creation of a Food Systems Advisory Council, a proposed 17-member statewide group to coordinate the current efforts of various agencies that assist with getting fresh food to residents.

“Because of the complexity of our food system, there isn’t one single place where one might address the wide range of ‘farm to table’ items that make up our food system, there isn’t a federal or state ‘Department of Food’, ” LiveWell Colorado writes in support of the legislation, Senate Bill 106.

If passed, the bill would create a unified voice to best incorporate state and federal agencies to allow residents better and easier access to healthy foods, LiveWell said.

In addition to the Food Policy Blueprint, LiveWell will soon release a workplace wellness study. The group is in the process of commissioning a study on best practices for coordinating healthy man-made environments, including bike lanes and safe streets and parks.

Following that will be blueprints on creating healthy school environments and a blueprint on the health-care industry, LiveWell officials said.

“The question that we revisit on a daily basis is how do we end or decrease the trend in obesity,” Lindsay said. “Michelle Obama with her Let’s Move campaign has said this is something that is long term. It tells us that we are moving in the right direction.”

For an overview or the full LiveWell report visit, http://www.livewellcolorado.org/advocacy.


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