Two-thirds of adults and almost one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, representing young and old, urban and rural, and majority and minority populations. This epidemic of excess weight is associated with major casues of chronic disease, disability, and death. Obesity-related illness is estimated to carry an annual cost of $190.2 billion.
Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the nation at 20.5% of the population, with 760,000 obese adults. 23% of Colorado children (ages 2-14) are overweight or obest. With a ranking of 23rd in the nation, Colorado's childhood obesity rate is rising at the second-fastest rate of increase in the nation.
A farmer's market is a multiple vendor market, where producers sell goods directly to consumers at a specific location. Farmers' markets most often sell fresh fruit and vegetables; meat, dairy, grains, prepared foods, and other items may also be available. A community garden is any piece of land that is gardened or cultivated by a group of people. Community gardens are typically owned by local governments, not-for-profit groups, or faith-based organizations. Communities may support gardens through tax incentives, land banking, zoning regulation changes, or ongoing assistance through free services such as water or waste disposal. Creating a strong local food system, including markets and gardens is key to improving the health of our community. Our community is collaborating to not only have farmers' markets and community gardens, but also to collaborate to ensure the continued success of the county's five farmers' markets and 10 (28 in Weld) community gardens.
A number of strategies aimed at reaching diverse community residents are being implemented in school, child care, community, and clinical settings across Weld County. They include:
1. The 5-2-1-0 Education Campaign
2. Promoting increased duration of breastfeeding
3. Increasing healthy food labeling in stores and point-of-purchase prompts restaurants
4. Educating retailers on healthy food purchasing
5. Providing nutrition and cooking education, nutrition counseling, and cooking demonstrations
There is some evidence that educational campaigns especially when implemented in conjunction with other environmental strategies will increase healthy food consumption and decrease sugary drink consumption, however, more evidence is needed. For example, some researchers have found that providing nutrition information on restaurant menus and signboards increases awareness of calories purchased (Elbel 2009, Elbel 2011, Tandon 2011, Vadiveloo 2011) and reduces calories purchased (NBER-Bollinger 2010, Pulos 2010). Also, researchers have found that point-of-decision/purchase prompts increase fruit and vegetable consumption (Buscher 2001, Freedman 2010, Reed 2011, Story 2008). (Source: County Health Rankings) Finally, the 5-2-1-0 Campaign has been found to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity, and decrease screen time and sugary drink consumption in children in several communities nationwide.
Cost if often perceived as the main barrier to eating healthier food (Haynes-Maslow, Parsons, Wheeler, Leone 2013). Furthermore, it has been found that lower socio-economic populations consume less fruits and vegetables (Mak et. al 2013). Recently, much attention is being paid to the correlation between unhealthy eating and obesity. According to the Institute of Medicine sugary drinks, fast food and other poor quality food can lead to obesity and other chronic disease and lower-income populations are at higher risk (2012). Making healthy food more affordable could lead to increased consumption and lower risk of chronic disease.
For many of their formative years, the children and youth of Weld County get a significant share of their food at school. Unfortunately, they often eat snacks and meals that have poor nutritional value. To change that, we will work through a variety of policy and system changes to improve the availability of healthy food in schools and reduce the availability and convenience of unhealthy choices.