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Why Is Colorado So Lean? 7 Lessons From the Lone 'Blue' State on CDC's Adult Obesity Map

July 17, 2008 -- The latest star spouting a lean lifestyle isn't a Hollywood celebrity with a wacky diet, extreme workout routine, or big-bucks trainer. It's a state -- Colorado.

Ever since 1990, Colorado has had the nation's lowest percentage of obese adults. And on the CDC's latest map of adult obesity prevalence, Colorado is the only state shaded in dark blue, because of its low percentage -- 18.7% -- of obese adults.

What's up with that? What does Colorado know that the rest of the country doesn't? And short of packing up the wagon and heading west, what can heftier states learn from Colorado?

Here are seven nuggets of Colorado's weight wisdom, from James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Denver and co-founder of America on the Move, a nonprofit group focused on healthy lifestyles.

(And for more weight loss ideas, take a look at these two WebMD slideshows: 9 Best Diet Tips Ever and 7 Most Effective Exercises.)

1. For now, just hold the line.

"That's the first goal," Hill says. "If we could first keep from getting worse, and then gradually start going down, that would be very, very good."

Even in Mississippi, the state with the highest adult obesity rate, "if we can just get 'em started making some small changes in the right direction, so that next year obesity rates don't go up, then over time, you may begin to create more of a culture of health, which exists more in Colorado right now," he says.

2. Cultivate a culture of health.

"I think Colorado has more of a culture of health than other places," Hill says.

"People value lifestyle, they value physical activity, they value healthy eating. We have an environment that's conducive to that. It's a wonderful place for physical activity. Even in the city, there are lots of parks and so forth."

3. Start small.

Small changes, that is. "The advice to the rest of the country is ... you aren't going to turn this around overnight and so start thinking about a lot of small changes."

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