The Colorado Health Foundation funded a report released yesterday that graded the health of Colorado citizens, and compared us to the rest of the nation. Overall, we’re not doing too badly – we are the thinnest state in the country, but then again, the bar isn’t set too high for that factor. And even though our obesity rate is lower than the rest of the country, it’s still 18.4%, and double what it was in the 80s. Our seniors are doing the best, with an overall grade of A- and general good health. On factors like flu and pneumonia vaccines our older citizens rank highly, and are in the top 10 states on 6 out of 7 Health Aging indicators.
Adults are doing better than most of the country in areas like diabetes and hypertension (no doubt a direct result of the lower than average obesity numbers), but we don’t do so well when it comes to the number of Coloradans living without health insurance (32nd in the nation).
Teenagers are also relatively healthy, but binge drinking (41st in the nation) and teenage pregnancies (36th) are both areas that we need to address.
Children and infants are in the worst shape in Colorado according to the report. This doesn’t bode well for our future as a healthy state. We rank 39th in the percentage of women who get no prenatal care until after the first trimester of pregnancy, and also 39th in the percentage of babies born with low birth weight. And once our babies are born, we rank 44th in the nation when it comes to providing health insurance to children. 14.1% of Colorado children have no form of health care. This obviously translates into a large number of children who receive little or no health care, preventive or otherwise.
It’s easy to point to the good things – after all, obesity seems to be the current buzzword when it comes to health, and we’re doing better than the rest of the country there. But we need to look at the more sobering facts that the report presents. While our obesity rate may be lower than the rest of the nation, it’s still double what it was 20 years ago, so we’re headed in the wrong direction. And when 43 states in the country (many of them poorer states than Colorado) are doing a better job of providing health insurance to children, we need to re-evaluate our priorities. Children who don’t get a healthy start in life tend to grow up to be unhealthy adults, and that is the future Colorado is facing unless we make some changes now.