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A Cartographic Exploration of the Geographies of Obesity in Denver, Colorado

Authors: Peter Anthamatten*, University of Colorado Denver
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Medical and Health Geography, Cartography
Keywords: Denver, overweight, obesity, health, walkability, food, mapping, monitoring
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Three well explored links between environmental risk factors and high BMI include the socioeconomic environment, walkability, and access to healthy foods. Policymakers have ultimately struggled to identify any clear solution for addressing the obesity epidemic due to inconsistent evidence, the complex nature of the problem, and the need to address it at varying geographic scales, from local communities to the globe.

With funding from the Colorado Health Foundation, several local health care providers collaborated with the University of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to build the Colorado BMI Monitoring System, a census-tract monitoring system for Denver and the surrounding communities. Participating health care providers from Denver region included Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, Kaiser Permanente, the Metro Community Provider Network, and Salúd Family Health Centers. Drawing from the patient information in the system and population data from the US Census Bureau, the CDPHE produced maps of obesity by census tract for the seven-county Denver metropolitan area, available on the CDPHE website for public use. The initial phase of the project included patient data from 2013 to 2015, and it has since been updated to show data from 2014 to 2016. A description of the construction of the monitoring system has been published and quantitative analysis of patterns in the data is currently underway.

The purpose of this poster is to display cartographic work that explores patterns in obesity across the city of Denver, drawing from public data available in the monitoring system.

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