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New Report Shows Childhood Obesity Is an Issue for Denver

Local Data Shows Rates Still Too High; Obesity Increasing among Hispanics

August 4, 2017

Denver Public Health today released the Denver Childhood Obesity Monitoring Report 2012-2016, a new analysis detailing information about childhood obesity trends in the City and County of Denver. According to the report, childhood obesity remains a public health issue as its prevalence in Denver has not changed in the past four years. Additionally, differences in obesity rates persist among certain populations, including Hispanics.

The analysis of Denver Public Schools student height and weight screening data show:

  • That in the 2015/2016 school year, 15.6 percent of children 2-17 years old were obese.
  • Boys are more likely to be obese than girls, and Hispanics are more likely to be obese than non-Hispanics.
  • Among Hispanic children, obesity prevalence increased from 20.2 percent to 20.9 percent between the 2012/2013 and 2015/2016 school years. 

“This local data is crucial because it could be very easy to look at Denver adult obesity statistics and conclude that childhood obesity is no longer a concern in our community,” says Bill Burman, executive director, Denver Public Health. “In reality, this report shows that obesity and differences in who is obese are major issues in the health of our community.”

In 2013, Denver highlighted reducing childhood obesity rates as a priority in Denver’s Community Health Improvement Plan. Since then, many organizations in Denver have begun working on this issue. A main area of their focus has been reducing the number of sugary drinks in a child’s diet.

“We know sugary drinks are the leading cause of too much weight gain in children,” says Jennifer Moreland, Healthy Eating Active Living, public health planner, Denver Public Health. “Through public information campaigns and healthy vending and concession policies, we are working hard with partners to make sure parents know about the dangers of sugary drinks while also making it easy for them to choose healthier options including water.”

Data from the report indicate this work may be making a difference in very young children. Since the 2012/2013 school year, obesity among all children 2 to 5 years of age declined from 10.6 percent to 9.2 percent. While it is too early to tell if this is a trend, it is an indication that public health interventions may be working.

Read the Denver Childhood Obesity Monitoring Report 2012-2016.