Child obesity on the rise in Colorado

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- For 22 straight years, Colorado has topped the list as the skinniest state in the country, but that doesn’t mean our kids are following the lead.

Colorado's obesity rate for children is rising faster than every other state but one, and health experts say it's time for parents to get their kids motivated.

"Rates of obesity in children have tripled in the last 30 years in the U.S.,” weight loss surgeon Andrew Morse, D.O. said. "A lot of people boil it down to a simple factor of calories in and calories out, but it's much more complex than that. You have to look at genetic factors, environmental factors and behavioral factors.”

Colorado's obesity rate is sitting at 20.7 percent, low enough to make us the thinnest of all 50 states, while childhood obesity ranks 23rd.

Doctors say for parents, it's all about leading by example.

"You have to model the behavior and do outdoor, active things as a family," Grand Junction resident Kathaleen Recker, who has two young daughters, said.

Recker said keeping her daughters healthy means a quick relax after school, and then it's out for a hike, bike ride or play-date with friends in the park.

"Playing is really the best way for kids to be active. They love to do it, so just let ‘em do it!" she said.

Along with exercise, another part of encouraging kids to be healthy is the diet.

"We try to get them involved in the eating process and nutrition, so they can make good choices even when I'm not around, and I involve them in our cooking and meal preparation," Grand Junction resident Mary Cawood, who also has two elementary school-aged daughters, said.

Cawood said she hopes her daughters will carry on the healthy diet and exercise plan even as they get older.

"Picking activities that you can do for a lifetime, I have one daughter who swims, and that's something that I hope she continues to do as an adult, learning to like outdoors, learning to like exercise,” she said.

Health experts say encouraging your kids to get involved with sports early on can also be key, and if you are able to participate with them, it creates a family effort of creating healthy lifestyles.

There are different ways to get your child active here in Mesa County, including Girls on the Run, or the Mesa County Junior Football Association.

More information for Girls on the Run can be found by calling 970-257-9267, and the Mesa County Junior Football Association can be contacted at 970-245-0725.

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