Drink­ing, drug use lower health rank

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jen­nifer Brown

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.

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