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Posted: December 14, 2012

How healthy is Colorado?

It's moved up three spots in the national rankings

Dr. William Mandell

When it comes to overall health, Colorado ranks among the best in nation, however the state has some opportunities for improvement according to the 23nd annual America’s Health Rankings from United Health Foundation. The report, the longest running of its kind in the country, placed Colorado No. 11 among all 50 states for overall heath, up three spots from last year.

Here’s a snapshot of how Colorado fared:

Colorado’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of diabetes and obesity: Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the U.S. at 20.7 percent of the population with 805,000 obese adults. Colorado also has the lowest diabetes rate in the U.S. at 6.7 percent of the population.
  • Low prevalence of sedentary lifestyle: Coloradoans are more active than all other states with the lowest prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Low rate of preventable hospitalizations: In the past 10 years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations declined from 57.2 to 46.6 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.

Colorado’s Challenges

  • Smoking and binge drinking are prevalent: While the prevalence of smoking in Colorado is slightly below the national median, but at 18.3 percent of adults, it exceeds the Healthy People 2020 objective of 12 percent of adults. In Colorado, 711,000 adults smoke. In addition, 20.1 percent of the population report binge drinking.
  • Higher rate of infectious diseases: In the past year, the incidence of infectious disease cases rose from 7.3 to 11.1 cases per 100,000 population.
  • Low immunization coverage: Colorado ranked 45th in the U.S. related to immunization coverage, with 86.8 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months covered.

As UnitedHealthcare’s medical director for Colorado, I have witnessed efforts statewide on behalf of the public and private sectors to improve certain health trends, such as the prevalence of binge drinking and immunization coverage, and to improve our overall health outcomes, such as reducing infant mortality and geographic disparity.

Together—as employers and employees—we can break down barriers to high-quality care.  And we can win. It will take work and time, but our health is worth that effort. For more information about America’s Health Rankings, please go to www.americashealthrankings.org.

William J. Mandell is a Medical Director for UnitedHealthcare of Colorado and is Board certified in Family Practice and Utilization Review and Quality Assurance. He practiced family medicine for 35 years and has served on the boards of the Colorado Medical Society,  El Paso County Medical Society and the Board of the Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine.

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