Mar 072010
Authors: Katelyn McNamara

Despite years of ranking as one of the fittest states in the United States, a report released last week shows Colorado may be taking a turn for the heavy, and that has some experts worried the state’s children could bear the brunt of the trend’s impact.

From 1995 to 2008, Colorado’s obesity rate increased 89 percent, while the number of obese adults nationwide rose 67 percent. According to the Associated Press, obesity rates in Colorado children exceed those of several other states in America.

In 2008, 15 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 14 in the state were overweight, leaving some experts concerned that more students, already bombarded with images of model-thin people on TV and computer screens, could enter struggles with eating disorders.

“I think it sets up unrealistic expectations,” said Janna Wilson, a science and health teacher at Boltz Middle School in Fort Collins. “They see the pictures, and they don’t know how to translate that into a healthy lifestyle.”

Wilson said many overweight adolescents just want quick responses and don’t want to take the time to construct healthy diets or exercise regiments, so many of them often just cut out entire food groups, turn to weight loss pills and fall into the pattern of crash dieting.

According to the Journal of American Dietetic Association, 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being overweight and 51 percent of 9 and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves when they’re on a diet.

Wylie Cate, a student counselor at Lesher IB World Middle School in Fort Collins, said her school also tries to promote good health through guest speakers, different events and activities and educational programs.

“It’s a hard age as far as body image goes,” she said.

Cate said some students walking down the hall could be as much as 200 pounds and look like they’re college aged while another student of the same age could be 60 pounds.

“That’s just who they are. There really is no norm,” she said.

Cate stressed to students that everyone is different and that sometimes perceptions of reality are not so real.

“I talk to a lot of girls about what body image is and not what being skinny is,” Cate said.

Kerry Duncan, owner of KLD Nutrition Therapy in Fort Collins, said societal pressures are “extremely intense.” A registered dietitian for 15 years, she said the most important thing to remember when dealing with weight issues is to be educated and support others who may be dealing with one.

“Most of the people I see are teens, college-aged or even middle-aged women,” Duncan said. “I’ve seen children develop eating disorders as young as 8 or 9 years old.”
Staff writer Katelyn McNamara can be reached at

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