“Pleasantly plump” does not exist in LiveWell Colorado’s vocabulary. People are either at a healthy weight, or they’re overweight or obese.
As a nonprofit dedicated to fighting obesity, LiveWell Colorado wants everyone in the state to be at a healthy weight, but at the moment, it’s focused on getting people to figure out which of the three categories applies to them. It’s an important first step, because LiveWell Colorado’s research indicates that most people don’t have a realistic view of where they are on the obesity scale.
“What we found is that people do find that obesity in the state is an issue,” says spokeswoman Tracy Boyle. “But when you talk to them more, they think obesity is someone else’s problem. They think if you’re obese, you look like someone on ‘The Biggest Loser’ — people who are morbidly obese.”
To encourage Coloradans to find out which category fits them — and, perhaps, motivate them to lose weight — LiveWell Colorado has launched a TV and website campaign recommending that they do a “Gut Check.”
The ad directs them to www.livewellcolorado.org, where they can calculate their Body Mass Index, a measure of obesity that’s based on a height-to-weight ratio.
Not every medical expert agrees that a person’s BMI is an accurate indicator of a healthy weight, but Boyle said it’s a starting point.
“There are different schools of thought, but it’s the most common tool,” she says. “We have to default somewhere. We want people to talk to their doctor and make sure they’re doing the most they can to be healthy.”
LiveWell Colorado hopes people who find out they’re obese or overweight will take at least some small steps to shed pounds. The website offers weight-loss tools and stories of Coloradans who were motivated to get their weight under control after learning they were either overweight or obese.
“None look like they would ever be on ‘The Biggest Loser,” Boyle said. “They look great, but this isn’t about vanity.”
LiveWell Colorado was created two years ago through Kaiser Permanente, the Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. It now has more than 21 LiveWell chapters throughout Colorado, some of which operated before the statewide organization was formed.
LiveWell Colorado Springs
The local chapter started three years ago, and focuses on projects in Harrison School District 2, although it works outside the district as well. It played a role in the development of an urban gardening project at D-2 headquarters, and it’s working with Harrison High School to add more healthful choices at concession stands during sporting events.
It also worked with the city on a Safe Routes to School project, which added sidewalks to Circle Drive and a stoplight-protected crosswalk between two intersections on Circle to encourage kids to walk or bike to school.
Next up is a project to modify food choices at the two hospitals under Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, said Mina Liebert, director of LiveWell Colorado Springs.