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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Colorado Making Slow but Steady Progress Toward an “A” in Health

Colorado Making Slow but Steady Progress Toward an “A” in Health

For nine years, the Colorado Health Report Card has documented our state’s standing on 38 key health indicators. The annual report, a collaborative project between the Colorado Health Institute and the Colorado Health Foundation, shows where Colorado is a leader in health – and where we fall behind.

So, is Colorado a straight-A state? The short answer: not quite yet.

Colorado does earn a No. 1 ranking on four of the 38 indicators: adult physical activity, adult obesity, adult diabetes and teen sexual activity.

But stagnant grades for babies and children highlight room for improvement. Colorado received a C for both age categories, the same as last year.

Improvements in some areas of kids’ health, such as children’s uninsured rates, are met by worsening grades on other measures. The immunization ranking among toddlers, for example, dropped 12 places since last year, from 18th to 30th.

The grade for teens stayed the same as last year at a B. High rankings on measures of sexual health – both the lowest level of sexual activity (1st) and high levels of condom use (3rd) – help to elevate this grade. The two lowest-ranking indicators for teens were uninsured rates and vegetable consumption, which both rank 41st.

Adults and seniors improved their grades since last year’s Health Report Card. Adults went from a B to a B+, while seniors earned the highest grade, an A-, up from a B+. Colorado ranks first or second on four healthy living indicators.  

A broader look at health across all ages reveals that some Coloradans are being left behind, even on the state’s top scoring measures. For example, nearly half of low-income seniors with annual incomes below $10,000 report poor physical health, more than three times the rate of seniors earning more than $75,000 a year.

                           low income seniors

Data workbooks contain detailed information about each indicator and show the measures broken out by income, race and ethnicity and gender. After peeling back these layers, it’s clear that Colorado has a lot of work to do before making the grade in health.

The results of the 2015 Health Report Card, which was released today, are just the first wave of a year-long series on Coloradans health. For the first time, the Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado Health Institute will use the new data to inform in-depth reports that will be released throughout 2015.