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Contact: Justin Park Community Engagement & Communications Coordinator Colorado Center for Community Development University of Colorado | College of Architecture & Planning Mailing Address: CAP, Campus Box 126, PO Box 173364, Denver, Colorado 80217 Physical Address: 1512 Larimer Street, Suite 750 Phone: 303-315-5866 | Fax: 303-315-5872 Release Date: December 8, 2010 Obesity is a life-Threatening Epidemic: It’s Time To Change The Future For Our Children Dateline: Denver, CO, December 8, 2010 Are you aware of the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States and the longterm effects directly related to this problem? According to the U.S Surgeon General, 12.5 million children are overweight; that’s more than 17%, In other words, nearly one out of five. The health risks that these children face include asthma, cardiovascular risks, diabetes, psychological effects of social stigmatization, and sleep apnea among others. You may be thinking ‘well, those statistics are not specifically directed towards residents in Colorado.’ However, according to the program of Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition, Colorado taxpayers spent nearly $874 million on health related problems in 2003 and the spending has only increased over the years. It is a growing and serious epidemic not to be ignored. These children are vulnerable and their minds soak up information like a sponge. That is why it is so important to give them the tools to make the right decisions and live a healthy lifestyle. Westwood, a community in Denver, grasped this concept and decided to make a change. This is a small step towards a beneficial and greater aspiration that so many dream of. Receiving the proper media attention to spread the word and change the future for our children is crucial. Westwood established an organization called Learning Landscapes. The main goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle consisting of eating right and exercising. The notion seems straightforward and even trouble-free, however, it is easier said than done. Learning Landscapes came up with a new method of motivating people to live a better lifestyle. Even though the overall goal of the

organization is to encourage the whole community to dedicate themselves and create healthy habits, the main focus is directed towards the elementary school aged children. It is vital to engrain a new standard of living in these children while they are young. According to Newsline Information, obese children have an extremely hard time losing weight and being consistent with the changes throughout adulthood. Westwood knew that they needed to do something that would attract the interest of kids’. What a more expedient way than to focus on playgrounds. The playgrounds were nearly transformed into a child’s dreamland consisting of welcoming gateways, boulders to climb around, educational artwork splashed throughout the vicinity, a playfield for organized sports among many other options, and a natural area. The point is, children will want to spend their time outside getting exercise; it will not be an obligation, rather, it will be a desire. Not only is physical activity imperative, but educating the community on healthy eating habits is key as well. One of the Westwood’s goals includes promoting healthy eating systems and to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables. It is so important to advertise consuming healthy foods as ‘fun’ in order to teach kids to do the same. The motivation is to educate children on nutrition and how to eat healthy. The focus is to steer away from the sugar and saturated fatty foods that so many consume with little thought on nearly a daily basis. Food is the fundamental source of fuel for the human body. If the community aims to transform sedentary behavior into energetic activities, the notion of sensible eating habits is mandatory. Obesity is growing tremendously throughout the United States, including Colorado. It is time to face the situation head on. Denial of the situation has been accepted for far too long. Although the changes that the communities of Westwood have made seem miniscule in comparison to the enormity of the issue, it can be the first link to the chain of living an improved and healthier life. If you would like more information regarding health and nutrition, contact Greg Campbell, News Reporter, Face The State 720.279.9870 The organization aims to improve the lifestyle of the community by providing assistance through specific associations.

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