Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who is on a quest to make Colorado the healthiest state (already the leanest state in the U.S.), recently weighed in on the sugar war unleashed by NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, noting that while a ban on giant sodas is controversial, nothing is off the table. “If we don’t begin looking at things like that, the costs are going to be enormous,” Hickenlooper said during his keynote at the Global Spa and Wellness Summit (GSWS) in Aspen.
It is Colorado’s outdoor culture and access to trails that make is the leanest state in America, according to Hickenlooper. But like many other states Colorado’s obesity rate is rising quickly and the state faces many challenges with its own $1.6B health care costs. The governor urged bolder approaches towards addressing lifestyle issues that are the direct result of obesity and sedentary lifestyles and discussed prevention solutions like:
- Reversing physical education cuts and recess shortenings in schools with programs like “Recess Rocks”
- Confronting “food deserts” (low-income communities where access to fresh fruits and veggies is limited)
- Dealing with the healthy lifestyle challenges of parents working more than one job (emphasis becomes focused on survival or maintaining low-paying jobs)
- Tackling stress-related health care costs through innovations like greater promotion of the state’s hot springs
- Encouragement of biking to work and workplace wellness program incentives for businesses
Asked by GSWS Board Member and SpaFinder President Susie Ellis if there is a country that should be emulated in its approach to health care, the governor said, “How about almost any country?” He went on to say, “It doesn’t come back to socialized or single-payer health care; it has to do with attitudes about healthcare.”
He touted Europe’s visionary approach to health care prevention with things like bike paths and health care efficiencies. “We spend roughly $8,000 per person, per year in this country, and yet you go to countries like Great Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and they’re spending $4,000 per person, and they’re having better outcomes,” he said. “They have greater longevity, lower infant mortality, and by almost all measures, their quality of life is far better than what we have in this country.”
The healthcare cost escalation is a huge challenge for the federal government but solutions will take “community will,” according to the governor. “If you listen to that hum in the distance, sometimes you think that’s the ventilation system, but really that sucking noise is the drain on our economy from the health care system,” Hickenlooper said. The responsibility, ideas and infrastructure lies with municipalities, towns, cities and state governments, he added.
The GSWS team along with SpaFinder’s food & wellness editor live-tweeted (@gwssummit) from the governor’s speech in Aspen on Tuesday. (SpaFinder’s CEO Pete Ellis is Chairman of the Board of the GSWS.)
@HickforCo: If we don’t start to look at things like Bloomberg’s big soda ban, the costs are going to be enormous. #GSWS2012
@HickforCo talks to press about food and health. Decisions need to be fact based and data driven. #gsws2012
@HickforCo: U.S. has the ability to devote time & resources to health care – this has also prevented us frm looking @ the details
@HickforCo: Each year it’s getting more and more difficult to get discretionary funding to put towards prevention. #GSWS2012
@HickforCo: Accord. to CDC, 75% of health care costs are behavioral-related disease & illness – directly a result of obesity.
@susieellis asks which country has a health care model that the US should emulate @hickforco: “How about all of them?!”#gsws2012