Douglas County’s socioeconomic status has again placed it among the healthiest counties in Colorado.
Higher levels of income and education are among the factors that help put Douglas County in the No. 2 slot, just behind Pitkin County, a mountain community that includes Aspen. Douglas consistently ranks near the top of the annual listings, released by the American Public Health Association, because residents can typically afford regular doctor visits and have more access to information about healthier living options, said Richard L. Vogt MD, executive director of the Tri-County Health Department.
He says the state’s many outdoor recreational opportunities have a higher percentage of people staying active, resulting in Colorado’s reputation as the fittest state in the country.
However, some communities, such as Huerfano County, are regularly in the bottom rungs. Roughly 37 percent of kids live in poverty in the southern Colorado community, compared with 4 percent in Douglas County. Furthermore, 87 percent of Douglas County residents have some college education, while only 51 percent of residents in Huerfano can make the same claim. The county health reports are meant to shine a light on deficiencies in communities where health disparities exist.
Douglas County is far from perfect, Vogt says, because there are still risk factor reductions that can be addressed. The Tri-County Health Department serves a small portion of Douglas’s population by providing immunizations and Women Infants and Children, or WIC, support.
The 2012 County Health Rankings report ranks counties according to their summary measures of health outcomes and health factors. The health of a community depends on many different factors, including the environment, education and jobs, access to and quality of healthcare, and individual behaviors.
“The rankings are not intended to be a national report that finds the 10 or 15 least healthy counties in the nation and focuses only on that,” the group’s website says.
For more detailed information, visit countyhealthrankings.org.