Be Healthy Denver

Be Healthy Denver is a joint effort between Denver Environmental Health, Denver Public Health,  and numerous partner organizations and individuals throughout the city focused on improving the health of all Denver residents through collaboration. Be Healthy Denver envisions a community that provides ample opportunities for all residents to be healthy, regardless of their race, ethnicity, income level, or the neighborhood in which they live.

Through this collaboration, Denver’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) has been developed to reflect two health priority areas selected by members of the community:

                Access to Care, including Behavioral Health
                Healthy Eating and Active Living, including the Built Environment

Two task forces representing organizations throughout Denver’s community worked over the past year to establish goals and develop an Action Plan addressing each topic. The Action Plan  is designed to guide governmental and community-wide efforts to improve the health of Denver residents.


Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP)- The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) contains an Action Plan, with two priority areas: Access to Care and Healthy Eating Active Living. Each of these areas has a five-year goal, a set of objectives, strategies for meeting each objective, and metrics for measuring progress.
The Be Healthy Denver team invites partner organizations throughout Denver to organize specific interventions around the CHIP goals and objectives to be part of this community-wide effort to realize a healthier more vibrant city. An executive summary of the report is also now available.

Community Health Improvement Plan Community Report – The community report is a condensed version the CHIP report that highlights the key components.  

Community Health Improvement Planning Process, Phase I – This report describes the first of three phases of the CHIP process: community engagement and prioritization. This phase began in March of 2012 after the release of the Community Health Assessment, Health of Denver 2011. Phase I consisted of developing and engaging a Be Healthy Denver steering committee, community meetings, focus groups, an online public survey and planning for Phase II: Strategy. Be Healthy Denver is currently in Phase III of the CHIP process: Implementation. An executive summary of this report is also available. Phase II and III reports will be available once they are completed.

Be Healthy Denver Progress Report August 2013This progress report explains the progress of the Access to Care and Healthy Eating and Active Living Task Forces through August 2013. These Task Forces were created in February 2013 to begin planning activities to address the two health topic priorities selected by the Denver community. The Task Forces were responsible for defining goals and strategies within these two health topics to improve the health of Denver residents. An executive summary of this progress report is also available.

The Health of Denver, 2011 report was developed by the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) at the City and County of Denver and Denver Public Health (DPH), a department of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority. 

The purposes of the report is to:

  • Identify important health trends in Denver
  • Show changes in health in Denver over time
  • Compare health outcomes in Denver to the state of Colorado and to national goals
  • Identify disparities in health in Denver  


To produce this report, a core group of Be Healthy Denver staff identified topics and data sources, engaged partners, and developed tools to assess health. A broad array of experts and community stakeholders participated in choosing the measures, identifying data sources, and recognizing key trends. The full report is available in English and Spanish. Sections of the report are also available by topic area:

City Council Reports- Health information for each city council district in Denver and can be found here:

Health Successes- Denver has seen several major public health successes. The three leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, cancer and injuries, continue to decrease. Decreases in cancer deaths are linked to reductions in tobacco use over the past 20 years, and to improvements in screening tests for detecting cancer at the earlier stages when treatment is more effective. The rates of homicide and deaths from motor vehicle accidents have substantially declined. Deaths attributed to infectious diseases such as HIV have declined, and new HIV infections have decreased, as effective treatment has improved the health of those with HIV and reduced the risk of spreading the virus.

There have also been improvements in the quality of the environment, which has a strong impact on health. Denver’s air and water quality continue to improve, and there have been notable improvements in the built environment. Many more miles of bike lanes have been added in recent years, and more Denver residents are now able to walk, ride bicycles, and use parks and recreation spaces than ever before.

Health Concerns- The Health of Denver 2011 report revealed several major areas of health concern in Denver, including access to health care, mental health, substance abuse, and obesity. Many of the strategies for preventing common illnesses, such as detecting and treating high blood pressure to prevent heart disease, require access to care. Yet one in five Denver residents lack health coverage, and one in 10 is underinsured with health insurance plans that do not cover the costs of necessary medical expenses and leave them with high out-of-pocket costs for co-pays and deductibles.

Mental illness and substance abuse are common among Denver residents. Denver’s suicide rate (17.4 per 100,000 residents) is well above the national average (11.5 per 100,000 residents), yet access to mental health care and substance abuse treatment remains very limited. Mental illness and suicide are a concern for Denver’s children. Approximately with 25% of middle and high school students at Denver Public Schools (DPS) having reported feeling depressed and 13% having seriously considered suicide during the 2011/2012 school year.

Alcohol and prescription drug abuse use are also worrisome trends. Youth substance use is prevalent in Denver, with 28% of middle and high school students at DPS reporting alcohol use and 19% reporting marijuana use in the past month.

Although Denver’s rates of overweight and obese adults are lower than for the US as a whole, its rates for children are similar to the national rates, and will soon translate into higher rates for all age groups unless action is taken to reverse the trends. During the 2012/2013 school year, 31% of Denver’s school-aged children (kindergarten through 9th grade) were overweight or obese, consistent with the national average of 33%.

The percentage of obese adults in Denver more than doubled in the last two decades, from less than 10% in 1990 to 20% in 2009. More than one-third of Denver adults were overweight in 2009, meaning that more than half of all adults were at an unhealthy weight, either obese or overweight.  

Implementation of the CHIP is overseen by the Be Healthy Denver Advisory Council.  Members are appointed by the Mayor of Denver. This Advisory Council consists of high-level stakeholders with an interest in health matters in Denver, such as the heads of key governmental agencies and departments, health care organizations, and non-profit and community-based organizations doing work related to Access to Care and HEAL in Denver.

The Advisory Council meets quarterly to review the CHIP implementation and progress in meeting the CHIP goals and objectives, with the support of the Be Healthy Denver core team. Given that coordinated action by many organizations and individuals is needed to achieve our goals and objectives by 2018, a key function of the Advisory Council is togalvanize efforts by organizations throughout the city to step forward and undertake projects and activities that are in alignment with the CHIP Action Plan, and to help to identify funding sources to support these activities.

The current BHD Advisory Council members are: BHD Advisory Council

News & Information

Release of the 2014 Health of Denver Report - Thursday, January 29, 2015
Join Denver Environmental Health and Denver Public Health for the release of the  2014 Health of Denver Report on Feb 23 from 3-4:40 p.m. at Mile high United Way. The report, the city's most recent community health assessment, provides current health data, identifies areas of concern, and measures progress towards improving the health of Denver residents. Visit here for more information, and RSVP here

CHIP 2014 Progress Report - Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Community Health Improvement Plan 2014 Annual Report – This progress report provides an update for Be Healthy Denver’s Access to Care and Healthy Eating Active Living workgroups, including Child Care, Schools, Community, and Government. This report will be released on an annual basis to describe progress toward our five-year CHIP goals and explain successes, challenges, and revisions to the activities of each workgroup. Please contact us if you would like more information or if you are interested in collaborating on Denver’s 2014-2018 CHIP. 

Progress of Denver Residents Enrolling in Health Care Coverage - Friday, November 14, 2014

Denver has achieved great success in expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. In just nine months, nearly 63,000 uninsured Denver residents have acquired coverage, and Denver’s rate of coverage has increased from 83% to nearly 93%! We are well on our way to reaching Denver's Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) goal of 94% coverage! We have an opportunity to continue to expand coverage through open enrollment, November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015.