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New Report Shows Coloradans Struggling with Mental Health, Obesity

Data Uncover Hurdles and Headways to a Healthy Colorado

DENVER, CO — Released today, the 2016 Colorado Health Report Card marks 10 years of ranking Colorado against other states based on 38 health indicators across five life stages, revealing data trends that showcase Colorado’s progress and struggles in health over a decade.

The Health Report Card’s 10-year data trends highlight stark realities for Coloradans facing economic, racial and ethnic disparities. While adults claim the nation’s best ranking for obesity, with 21.5 percent obese, that rate has climbed from 18.4 percent in 2006. Moreover, 26.1 percent of adults with annual incomes between $15,000 and $20,000 are obese compared with 19 percent for those earning more than $75,000.

When it comes to our aging population, Colorado’s rank for mental health declined from fifth in 2007 to 11th in 2016. The percentage of older adults reporting their mental wasn’t good at least eight days in the past month increased from 5.9 percent to 7.9 percent. And nearly one of five seniors with annual incomes of less than $10,000 reported poor mental health, about four times the rate of seniors with annual incomes of $75,000 or more.

Health disparities based on race or ethnicity persist too. For instance, the infant mortality rate for black infants is 9.6 per 1,000 births, which is more than double the rate for white infants. And, there are distinct inequalities among children living in poverty, with 35.1 percent of Hispanics and 33.5 percent of blacks below the poverty line compared with 11.1 percent of white Coloradans.

The Colorado Health Foundation, in partnership with the Colorado Health Institute, released the new report during a presentation today for legislators and policymakers at the state Capitol. In addition to sharing 10-year trends for some of Colorado’s most pressing health issues, this year’s Health Report Card features the latest annual rankings across five life stages and “deep dive” workbooks focused on specific health indicators.

Over the past decade, Colorado’s Health Report Card rankings have also faltered on the following health issues:

  • Healthy Beginnings: The percentage of children between 19 and 35 months who received all their recommended immunizations dropped from 80.3 in 2007 to 74.3 in 2016.
  • Healthy Children: The number of children living in poverty is on the rise, from 14.4 percent in 2007 to 20.1 percent in 2016.
  • Healthy Adolescents: The percentage of teens living in poverty has increased from 10.3 percent in 2007 to 17.7 percent in 2016.
  • Healthy Adults: Adults experiencing poor mental health increased from 11.8 in 2007 to 13.7 in 2016.
  • Healthy Aging: Colorado struggles to improve immunization for seniors, with a decrease from 62.2 percent in 2007 to 52.8 percent in 2016.

Despite these concerning trends, there is progress to note from the past 10 years. Both babies and children earned their highest grades in this latest Health Report Card. The Healthy Beginnings category climbed from a C to a C+, mostly because Colorado moms-to-be reached sixth place nationally for timely prenatal care, jumping 12 places. And Healthy Children also took home a C+, with higher health insurance coverage driving their rise from a C.

Colorado also saw a big jump in health insurance for both children and adults. The rank for children jumped from 45th in 2009 to 28th in 2016. Today, just 5 percent are uninsured. When it comes to adults, the ranking climbed from 33rd in 2008 to 21st in 2016. And the percentage of uninsured adults dropped from 20.1 percent to 14.1 percent.

Other areas of meaningful progress:

  • Healthy Beginnings: The number of moms-to-be not receiving prenatal care dropped from 21.2 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2016.
  • Healthy Children: Only 5 percent of children remain uninsured, down from 14.1 percent in 2007.
  • Healthy Adolescents: Colorado teen birth rate continues to decline from 43.9 per 1,000 teenage females in 2007 to 23.4 per 1,000 in 2016.
  • Healthy Adults: The percentage of uninsured adults dropped from 19.6 percent in 2007 to 14.1 percent in 2016.
  • Healthy Aging: The percentage of seniors participating in physical activity has increased slightly from 74.6 percent in 2007 to 77.3 percent in 2016.

“Health is everyone’s business. Anyone looking at these indicators can see elements of themselves, their families and their communities. And we all play a role in improving the grades that are challenging us, either through our work or our involvement in Colorado’s communities. By working together today to improve our grades, we will bolster the prosperity and overall health of our state.” said Foundation President and CEO Karen McNeil-Miller.

“When you look over the past 10 years, you can see a steady beat of improvement in the programs and policies in Colorado that affect health,” said Michele Lueck, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Institute. “The Health Report Card always reminds of us the work we still have to do, but it also shows us how far we have come.”

To read the Colorado Health Report Card and to find out more about what the data means for Colorado, please visit www.ColoradoHealth.org/ReportCard. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #COHRC.

About the Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation is singularly focused on helping Coloradans live their healthiest lives by advancing opportunities to pursue good health and achieve health equity through grantmaking, policy and advocacy, strategic private investments and convening to drive change. For more information, please visit www.coloradohealth.org.

About the Colorado Health Institute 
The Colorado Health Institute is a nonprofit health policy research organization dedicated to providing data,information and analysis to support Colorado’s leaders and policy makers. We are a trusted source of independent and objective health information. For more information, please visit coloradohealthinstitute.org.