Report: Colorado’s still the least obese state, but health comes with wealth

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo
BMX riders take in the sunset at the Denver Skate Park. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

BMX riders take in the sunset at the Denver Skate Park. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Colorado is still the least obese state, with about 20 percent of residents qualifying as overweight, but it suffers from health and life problems that affect poor people more than the rich, according to a new report from the United Health Foundation.

In fact, Colorado despite its physical fitness ranks only tenth for overall healthiness in America’s Health Rankings, trailing New Jersey, New Hampshire, Hawaii and others. The state is in the bottom half of the rankings for drug deaths and alcohol, and it’s near the absolute bottom for high-school graduations.

Obesity:

Colorado and Michigan were the only two states to post a decrease in their obesity rates since 2012. Colorado also remains the most physically active state.

Americans in general are getting fatter, but obesity is increasing slowest among the most educated people.

This indicates that some of Colorado’s “healthy state” status may be coming from wealthier transplants who have better access to healthy life choices. However, while Coloradans with less education are getting more obese, it’s happening at a slower rate here than any other state.

The state similarly ranks well for its rate of cancer and heart disease.

Drug use and education:

Colorado also doesn’t do great in several categories. Drug deaths and excessive drinking both are more prevalent here than in 30-plus other states.

Perhaps the state’s greatest detriment is its high-school graduation rate, which is 45th in the nation. The graduation rate is about 77 percent here, and a lack of a high-school degree predicts a significantly shorter lifespan, according to the report.

Overall, Colorado ranked 48th for health disparities. In other words, the gap in healthiness between the wealthy and the poor is one of the biggest of any states.

Immunizations:

Colorado generally ranks in the top tier of states for immunization, meaning people tend to get their shots more often here.

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