Anne Warhover is president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation.
An interesting acronym sweeping the business world is CSV (or "creating shared value"). In short, CSV refers to the interdependence of corporate success and social welfare. CSV-oriented companies focus on "sustainable" business strategies that generate revenue while promoting social and environmental integrity.
Health, health care and education align with the principles of CSV. It's hard to imagine sustaining a business – let alone an entire economy — when its workforce is unhealthy and undereducated. Sadly, the results of the 2010 Colorado Health Report Card, show Colorado's current state of physical health – particularly regarding our kids – is unsustainable both as an economic driver and as a contributor to society's well being.
On the upside, the Report Card results also challenge Colorado businesses, policymakers and other stakeholders to explore the benefits of shared value and help pave a sustainable path to improve both the physical and economic health of our state.
During a March 21 event promoting the release of the Report Card, members of the business community concurred that health is critical for wooing prospective employers to the state and a significant driver in the cost of doing business.
While Colorado is the only state with an obesity population under 20 percent, the latest Report Card shows that 14 percent of Colorado kids are obese – ranking us No. 23 among states. In fact, Colorado has the fourth fastest-growing rate of childhood obesity in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though obesity is but one measure of health, it's a measure with serious economic implications. For example, statistics from the CDC show obesity costs Coloradans an estimated $874 million each year. Many other key indicators also show Colorado has much work to do to improve its health. For example, we lag far behind other states in prenatal health (No. 34), adults without insurance coverage (No. 30) and dental care for children (No. 38).
Creating shared value by improving Colorado's overall health – through the innovative work of numerous communities, nonprofit organizations, policymakers and other stakeholders throughout Colorado – will, in time, have a measurable effect on businesses in the state and on the overall health of Coloradans.
Working with businesses, our nonprofit partners and other health care stakeholders, we're hopeful that future Report Cards will begin to show an uptick that will transform Colorado from a bright but underachieving student to a valedictorian at the top of the class.
That's why we invite business leaders across Colorado to create their own shared value and work together toward the goal of making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation.
What can the business community do to help make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation? Post your ideas in the comment box below. Please note that comments will be open for two weeks from the initial post date. Follow the Foundation's work on Facebook and Twitter.