Cortez signs on to health campaign

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 12:09 AM

The City of Cortez is a leader in the state when it comes to promoting healthy eating and active living policies.

Earlier this month, city leaders voted unanimously to join the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign of Colorado. Designed to address how healthy eating and active living policies can impact the way people live, the campaign aims to help build healthier communities and support local leaders in their commitment to address both a city’s physical and fiscal health.

The HEAL Campaign, however, is not the first initiative adopted by Cortez officials to improve the community’s health. The city’s employee wellness program has been successful on many fronts, according to city manager Shane Hale.

“We’ve been successful in encouraging employees to quit smoking, to begin exercising and eating better, which saves costs to taxpayers in lower insurance premiums,” Hale said.

Studies have shown a 3-to-1 return on investments in employee wellness programs, meaning for every dollar invested by employers in workplace wellness, there was an average savings of more than $3.

The city has also previously been involved with LiveWell Montezuma, which was instrumental in the Farm to School project and offering the Weight of the Nation series of programs on obesity, said Hale.

Cortez was one of six cities to first join the new HEAL Campaign, which enables city leaders to receive free training and support when analyzing the community’s policies regarding healthy eating and active living.

Studies show nearly six out of 10 adults in Colorado are obese, and nearly one of every four children is obese or overweight. Colorado spent more than $1.6 billion treating obesity-related diseases and conditions in 2009, the last year for which data is available.

“Coloradans continue to face a health and economic crisis caused by obesity,” said Maren Stewart, president and CEO of LiveWell Colorado. “To make the healthy choice the easy choice – and create lasting change – we must foster leadership at every level, including local municipalities.”

The HEAL Campaign was launched statewide earlier this month by LiveWell Colorado and the Colorado Municipal League.