Drinking, drug use lower health rank
Colorado still ranks as the “least obese” and the most physically active state, but poor scores for excessive drinking and drug-related deaths have dropped Colorado to the 10th healthiest in the nation, says a new report released Thursday.
That’s down two places from last year, when Colorado was named the eighthhealthiest state in the United Health Foundation’s annual report.
One in five adults in Colorado is obese, and that is the best in the country. Nearly 18 percent of adults in Colorado reported getting no exercise beyond their regular job, also the best statistic in the nation, where the average was 26 percent.
Yet the report pointed out an abysmal fact that local health authorities have been saying for a while — though the state ranks consistently as one of the fittest in the nation, the disparities between the wealthy and the poor in Colorado are stark.
Colorado ranks 48th in the national report — third from the bottom — in the “disparity in health status” category, which was measured by comparing the health status of those with at least a high school education to those who did not graduate from high school.
Colorado also scored poorly, at 45th in the nation, in the percentage of high school students who graduate within four years, at 77 percent.
“While Colorado has made significant progress in some areas, like physical activity and tobacco cessation, disparities still exist in others, like education,” said Judith Shlay, interim director of Denver Public Health.
Education is a “critical factor in earning potential,” Shlay said, and income determines where people live and whether they have access to healthy food and safe places to exercise. “Colorado needs to look to other states to learn new ways to close gaps in all areas that contribute to health,” she said.
In “excessive drinking,” defined as four consecutive drinks for women and five for men, Colorado was 36th. About 19 percent of Coloradans reported drinking that much at least once during the prior month.