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Larimer County ranks 7th healthiest in Colorado, according to the annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).
An easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, the Rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. Housing is part of the foundation for living long and well. High housing costs can force some families to live in unsafe or overcrowded housing or even into homelessness. This year’s rankings show stark differences across and within counties in the opportunity to afford a home, especially for those with low incomes and people of color. This year’s analyses show that a lack of opportunity for a safe, secure, and affordable home is tied to poor health.
These rankings highlight areas that Larimer County is doing well in, including our low teen pregnancy rate, which has been dropping since the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception initiative began years ago. Larimer County also has low uninsured rates, with many local programs that help residents find insurance options available to them.
These rankings also help us identify areas that need improvement in our community, and many of the areas identified are focus areas that the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) is actively working on. One area identified is the increasing rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the county. This rise in infections is being seen across Colorado, and many local health departments are working to increase access to testing and treatment. In response to these increasing infections, all LCDHE locations will be offering free STI testing for the month of April.
Obesity is identified as an area of concern in our community. Physical activity especially accesses to safe places to be active, is also an area LCDHE focuses on through our Built Environment program. This program works with cities and municipalities to keep health, access to safe parks and healthy food, and safe infrastructure in mind when planning and making decisions that impact residents of our community.
While smoking rates across Colorado have continued to decline in recent years, vaping has brought new concerns to our community. Our youth are vaping at a higher rate than most of the state, with electronic vape product use on the rise at an alarming rate of 32%. Our tobacco prevention program works with schools and local partners to educate parents and students about the risks of nicotine products in the many new forms they are available in.
Work to improve air quality in Larimer County continues, primarily by inspecting permitted sources, investigating dust complaints as well as issuing open burn permits. In partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, air quality advisories are shared locally so our community knows when air quality concerns exist.
More information about the health of Larimer County is available on our website at https://www.larimer.org/health/health-county.
The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.