Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lt. Gov. O'Brien Tells National Commission Balance Needed to Build a Healthier Colorado

Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien today told the Commission to Build a Healthier America that Colorado needs to find a solid balance of "individual, community, and policy response" to inspire healthier lifestyles, especially in workplace wellness programs.
The Commission to Build a Healthier America held its third national field hearing in Denver today as it searches for innovative methods outside of the health care system to improve the country's health. The 14-member commission is comprised of leading academics, business leaders, foundation, non-profit and union representatives from across the nation. The members were appointed in February by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to come up with recommendations by April 2009. Earlier field hearings were held in Raleigh, NC on the impacts of early childhood habits on later life, and in Philadelphia on the effects a neighborhood's social and economic impacts have on health. Today's hearing focused on workplace wellness issues.
"Colorado has a culture of health and outdoor activity, but we need to do more," said Lt. Gov. O'Brien.  "We are the only state in the country with a less than 20% obesity rate, but we're headed in the same direction as the rest of the country. We think we can flatten out that trend and hopefully reverse it with the help of a critical mass of foundations, businesses and policies that fit our western lifestyles."
Lt. Gov. O'Brien cited some examples of activities in Colorado that are underway to help foster healthier attitudes:
·         Metro Denver Health & Wellness Commission's memorandum of understanding with 30 mayors in the Metro Mayor's Caucus to implement six new actions for health in each of their municipalities.
·         LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit funded by Kaiser Permanente to Colorado Health Foundation to reverse the obesity trend, including workplace wellness initiatives.
Lt. Gov. O'Brien noted that the United States spends more money per person on health care than any other country, but has a less healthy population. She said if we don't move toward a healthier population, no one will be able to afford health insurance, and U.S. businesses will be less competitive in the global workplace.