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Originally published Friday, March 25, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Rocky Mountain high — and wide

Over the past 15 years, the percentage of obese Coloradans has grown faster than in any other state, except Virginia.

The Associated Press

DENVER — For years, Colorado has been ranked the leanest state in the country with a reputation as a magnet for hard bodies who love the outdoors.

But over the past 15 years, the percentage of obese Coloradans has grown faster than in any other state, except Virginia.

Denver resident Toby Head illustrates the point. A trim 185 in 1990 when he left the Army, he's now one pound shy of 300 pounds.

"I guess friends moved away and I found Xbox and decided to drink every night and play video games," he said.

Colorado's growing weight problem has alarmed health experts and grabbed the attention of state lawmakers, who are considering bills designed to encourage children to exercise and choose healthful foods and to include obesity treatment under Medicaid.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.9 percent of Colorado residents in 1990 were considered obese. By 2003, the latest figures available from the CDC, that figure had risen to 16 percent.

On the Net:

America on the Move:

CDC on obesity:

American Obesity Association:

"I still have an image of Colorado as this mecca for outdoor activities. It is a little surprising to see the obesity numbers increasing," said Adam Hodges, a columnist for The Colorado Triathlete magazine.

For now, Colorado is the second-leanest state with 51 percent of adults overweight or obese, behind Hawaii with 50 percent.

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