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Colorado Is No Poster Child For Perfect Health

Tyler Hitchcock
Creative Commons/Flickr
Colorado may be a mecca for outdoor activity, but the state still has room to improve when it comes to health

Coloradans famously enjoy a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities, from hiking and biking to rafting, rock climbing, and skiing. Despite being healthier than almost every other state, Colorado still has room to improve – especially when it comes to children’s well-being.

A new report card from the Colorado Health Foundation gave the state a B for adult health, and a B+ in the area of healthy aging. In both cases, grades were boosted by low rates of obesity and high blood pressure, and high levels of physical activity.

Colorado recently lost bragging rights as the nation’s leanest state (although, to be fair, it only slipped to second place, behind Montana), and the state’s overall obesity rate has doubled in the last two decades.

"In some ways, Colorado is not doing as well as we expect of ourselves as a high-performing state," Shepard Nevel with CHF told Colorado News Connection. "But the solutions are within our reach, and we can make very specific changes."

When it comes to children’s health, the state only scored a C. One of the primary reasons is poverty. The report found 23.5 percent of the Colorado children live in poverty -- a finding echoed in the most recent Kids Count! report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which found poverty to be a significant barrier to child well-being.

Another reason for that C grade? Colorado’s 24th place ranking for physical activity for children. Hard to believe, but Colorado is one of only four states that doesn’t require physical education in schools.

The annual Colorado Health Report Card uses data from 38 key health indicators to illustrate the current state of health in the state.

As host of KUNC's Colorado Edition, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. And because life is best when it's a balance of work and play, I love finding stories that highlight culture, music, the outdoors, and anything that makes Colorado such a great place to live.
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