The Colorado Health Foundation has released a report which claims that the state is falling behind in terms of the physical health of its children. While Colorado is still the leanest state in the union, with an obesity rate of 22 compared to a national obesity rate over 33%, the rate is increasing rapidly. A couple of years ago Colorado could boast of being the only state with an obesity rate lower than 20%. The increase can be attributed to the state's skyrocketing childhood obesity rate.
More than 14 percent of all Colorado children are now obese and a third of children here don't get enough exercise, defined as physical activity that makes them sweat and breathe hard for 20 minutes four days a week.
The annual health report tracks 38 indicators spanning five life stages from prenatal to old age. The state's overall grades have remained roughly constant for the five years of its existence, but Michelle Lueck, president of the Colarado Health Institutue thinks the state is failing its children.
"The grades are middle of the pack," said Lueck. "We would hire a tutor if these were our kids' grades."
In a supplement to the report the Foundation highlight some preventive programs that showing promising results. These include Cavity Free at Three, which has provided more than 15,000 babies from deprived homes with dental services. As a study has found that a child seeing a dentist before their first birthday more than halves average dental costs over their first five years this program is considered worthwhile.
"I didn't realize just how important oral health is, but it's a gateway to the health care delivery system," Lueck said. "An untreated cavity can become an abcessed tooth and that becomes an infection."
She put the number of school hours lost by Colorado students every year because of cavities at 8 million.
Vaccination programs also show significant return on investment, with estimates showing that for every dollar invested in vaccines the family save $5 in health care costs later on and another $11 in indirect costs related to enforced parental absences from work to care for the sick child.