Battling the obesity epidemic | AspenTimes.com

Battling the obesity epidemic

Aspen Times Staff Report

Even in a state where the outdoor lifestyle is predominant, the average weight of Coloradans has risen a pound a year during the last decade.

Nationwide, the obesity problem is reaching epidemic proportions. Last year, the cost of obesity passed the $100 billion mark in health-care costs incurred by weight-related diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as lost productivity.

That’s according to Dr. James Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Dr. Hill will offer a free lecture, “The Obesity Epidemic: New Research and Critical Campaigns,” on Wednesday at The Given Institute in Aspen.

The lecture is the third of six presentations offered this summer by top medical experts at The Given, located at 100 East Francis St. The lectures begin at 5:30 p.m., with refreshments offered at 5 p.m.

Because obesity leads to other serious health problems, Dr. Hill will talk about the future impacts on the health-care industry of the obesity epidemic, as well as the latest statistics on the weight problems of Americans. He will also talk about innovative new approaches to turning the tide, focusing on a new program called “Colorado on the Move.”

“We live in an environment that unintentionally creates obesity,” said Dr. Hill. “A whole host of technological advances have combined to reduce the amount of exertion that’s required on a day-to-day basis.”

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The American culture also encourages food intake at almost every opportunity. “Name me one place where food isn’t available,” said Dr. Hill. “Gas stations, movies, outdoor festivals; snack machines are everywhere.”

Among the most alarming trends is the weight problem in children. “About 25 percent of kids are overweight to the point where it affects their health,” said Dr. Hill. “More kids are developing Type II diabetes, which has always been a type of diabetes we see in older adults.”

But Dr. Hill will also talk about new, broad-based strategies to combat the obesity trend. One tool is called a step-counter, which can be worn on a belt and counts steps as a new method of measurement and motivation.

Dr. Hill will also talk about a set of groundbreaking efforts being pursued by The Friends of the Center for Human Nutrition, a nonprofit that is working with the developers of the former Stapleton Airport in Denver to implement fitness incentives into the development.

For more information, contact The Given Institute at 925-1057.