A national report released March 20 shows that rates of premature deaths in the U.S. are at the lowest level in 20 years. Nevertheless, people in the unhealthiest counties are dying too early at more than twice the rates of those in the healthiest counties.
The County Health Rankings report, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, examined the health and well-being of people living in nearly every county in the U.S. The rankings data helps to lay the groundwork for health improvement efforts of governors, mayors, business leaders and citizens across the country.
Larimer County ranked ninth in the study out of 59 Colorado counties, with Boulder County coming in fifth. Pitkin County was ranked the highest in terms of health and well-being.
Factors that differentiated Larimer and Boulder counties from the top-scoring Colorado counties included higher incidences of excessive drinking, higher percentage of adults who smoke, a higher percentage of fast-food restaurants and higher numbers of sexually transmitted infections.
The survey found that Larimer County has one primary care physician for every 1,258 residents. In Boulder County, the rate is one physician for every 800 residents. The state average is one for every 1,287.
The 2013 County Health Rankings rely on a robust set of data and analysis that allows counties to see what it is that is making residents sick or healthy, and how they compare to other counties in the same state. This is the fourth year of the Rankings, published online at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
The County Health Rankings show that how long and how well people live depends on multiple factors beyond just their access to medical care. It examines 25 factors that influence health, including rates of childhood poverty, rates of smoking, obesity levels, teen birth rates, access to physicians and dentists, rates of high school graduation and college attendance, access to healthy foods, levels of physical inactivity and percentages of children living in single parent households.