Two weeks ago, two fascinating reports gave a snapshot for the health of Colorado.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the first time provided ranking of counties in each state based on specific
healthranking.org). Each county was ranked on how healthy residents are and how long they live.
Key factors affecting health were identified: smoking, obesity, binge drinking, access to primary care providers, rate
of high school graduation, rate of violent crime, air pollution levels, liquor store density, unemployment rates and
number of children living in poverty. For Colorado, La Plata County ranked No. 12, while neighboring Archuleta and
Montezuma ranked 10th and 30th.
The report, compiled by Colorado Department of Health, presented weight and health habits of the state. Although
Colorado continues to be the leanest state, 55 percent of adults were overweight or obese.
The overweight percent is about the same as nationally, but we have fewer obese individuals (14 percent versus 19.1
Obesity in adults is highest in the age range of 45-64 and children 2-14 years of age, (15.1 and 13.6 percent,respectively). The overweight and obese numbers correlate to state geographics (eastern counties being highest),ethnicity (Hispanics and blacks having higher numbers), education (higher rates correlated with lower education), and
lower income, which correlated to higher levels of excess weight.
These reports come on the heels of the national tax on sweetened drinks and candy being voted down, though for the sake
of balancing Colorado's budget this year (not health), a 2.9 percent tax will be imposed on sweetened drinks and candy.
Already candy makers in Colorado are investigating exemption loopholes for candy containing even a pinch of flour.
In Colorado, there has been a minimal increase of adults doing at least 30 minutes a day of moderate or 20 minutes
daily of vigorous physical activity (54.7 percent versus 49.5 percent nationally). However, in this corner of the
state, 13 percent report absolutely no physical activity
in 30 days.
The activity level of our pre-high school youth remained at 71.6 percent who are active. This is defined as seven or
more hours weekly playing sports or some other physical activity. This must be working since 95.9 percent of our
children are viewing less than two hours per day of television, computer or video time.
Another modifiable risk factor measured was consumption of fruits and vegetables.
In Colorado, only 25.8 percent of us met the guideline of 2½ cups of produce, though this is a higher percentage than
nationally. With increased age, education and income, fruit and vegetable intake correspondingly increases.
Colorado also marked the fastest-growing number of poor kids nationally since 2000. Other than that distinction,factors that correlate with increased obesity and being overweight are all lower in Colorado.
So to say the words to one of my favorite songs, It doesn't change a thing, but even so, after 25 years, it's nice to
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Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.