Children's Hospital Colorado

Combating Obesity with Nutrition and Physical Activity

Two kids ride their bikes on a trail in a park in Colorado.

Why keeping kids healthy matters

Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the United States. Despite a long history as being one of the healthiest states for adults, Colorado’s children have not fared as well. Data from the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment illustrates some of the challenges facing our youth:

  • 28% of children statewide are overweight or obese
  • 19% of parents report their child consumes 5 total servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 24% of households with children ages 1-14 sometimes or often feel that the food they bought didn’t last, and they didn’t have money to get more
  • 45% of parents report that their child is physically active for at least 60 minutes per day

Good nutrition and physical activity are among the most important factors for health. They are particularly significant for infants, toddlers and young children who need an adequate intake of key nutrients while their brains and bodies are rapidly developing. The foundations for lifelong healthy eating and physical activity begin in these formative years.

Let's address obesity together

Learn what we're doing to combat high obesity rates and how you can help in your home and community.

To address these concerns, Children’s Colorado will focus on three major areas of prevention and health promotion:

  • Goal 1: Educate and empower families across the lifecycle with the skills and information they need to make behavior changes that support a healthy lifestyle
  • Goal 2: Improve access to healthy foods and physical activity for children and their families, particularly in underserved communities
  • Goal 3: Advance the field of childhood obesity research through collaboration and dissemination

Bikes for Life

Bikes For Life encourages Colorado youth to develop healthy habits and a lifelong commitment to wellness through bicycling.  Bikes For Life advocates for healthier kids in three ways:

  • Using bikes to encourage physical activity
  • Providing ongoing skills and education services
  • Conducting research.

Peak Champions: Summer Camp Program 

Peak Champions addresses accelerated summer weight gain in youth. It is a weeklong program for underserved, low-income youth that incorporates activities and curriculum from existing programs to engage youth in continuous physical activity while learning about goal setting, teamwork, nutrition and healthy lifestyles. The campers are exposed to a variety of physical activities and hands-on cooking lessons throughout the week as they earn points toward reaching their goal.

Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters

Children’s Hospital Colorado coordinates Cooking Matters courses in the community. Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters course goals are:

  • To improve the nutrition knowledge, eating habits, cooking skills, food safety practices, and food resource management skills of people at risk of hunger so they can better provide for themselves and their families.
  • To provide chefs, nutritionists and other community members with an outlet to get involved in their communities and to share their skills with people who can benefit from them.

Bringing healthy habits to the community

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Resource Institute Pipeline-to-Proposal Award (PCORI) provides Children's Colorado with the exciting opportunity to work with families and our partners in the community to understand how we can more effectively support low-income Hispanic families in achieving a healthy weight in children under the age of five.

Our community’s kids need support from all the adults in their lives to make healthy decisions—parents and caregivers, teachers and schools, and community organizations. With over a fourth of our state’s kids overweight or obese, we need to fight this epidemic as a community, to prevent the negative impact it will have on the long-term health of children and teens. 

Tips for reducing sugar-sweetened beverages in your diet

One way to keep your family healthy is to reduce sugary drinks in your diet. We recommend the following tips:

  • Choose water, diet drinks or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda or juice.
  • Don't keep sugar-sweetened beverages in your fridge.
  • Serve water with all meals.
  • Add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, strawberry or watermelon for flavor.
  • Add a splash of 100% juice to plain or sparkling water.
  • When you do have a sugar-sweetened drink, order the smallest size.
  • Be a role model for your family and friends by choosing beverages low in sugar and calories.

Learn more tips for reducing obesity

Ask for help

Join the Child Health Champions network

Our advocacy efforts rely on the strength and action of Children's Hospital Colorado’s Grassroots Advocacy Network. This is a group of people who care about kids' health and well-being and want to make a difference.

More than four thousand people currently participate in the Network, which joins the voices of physicians, healthcare professionals, patients and families with business leaders and community members to speak up clearly and powerfully for kids when public policy decisions are made. Advocates write letters, make phone calls, and share information when needed to influence public policies. Learn how to join the network today.