A local resident takes a run Wednesday afternoon near Colorado Highway 394 and Ranney St. in Craig. Moffat County Commissioners and area health officials on Tuesday explored ways to encourage positive lifestyle habits in the community following the April release of concerning statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Photo by Joe Moylan

A local resident takes a run Wednesday afternoon near Colorado Highway 394 and Ranney St. in Craig. Moffat County Commissioners and area health officials on Tuesday explored ways to encourage positive lifestyle habits in the community following the April release of concerning statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Moffat County officials discuss encouraging healthier lifestyles


By the numbers ...

2012 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report out of 59 Colorado counties:

(Moffat County/Routt County)

Mortality: 47/11

Morbidity: 51/9

Health behaviors: 59/5

Clinical care: 53/6

Social, economic factors: 33/11

Physical environment: 11/4

Overall: 50/9

— Information compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.


“The single biggest thing that occurred in public health in the entire last century was (the campaign against smoking) during the late 1960s and early 1970s…it has had a remarkable effect. If you could hit those three major players — smoking, drinking and obesity — you would do a lot to improve the wellbeing of the community.”

— Dr. Scott Ellis, Moffat County medical advisor and chief of staff at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, about improving the overall health of Moffat County residents

Last month, Lisa Brown, chief executive officer of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, presented the Moffat County Commission with startling statistics about the health behaviors of local residents.

According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a report compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Moffat County residents ranked 50th out of 59 Colorado counties in overall health.

Even more concerning, Moffat County ranked last in health behaviors, a category that rates residents on certain lifestyle choices such as substance abuse, exercise and diet.

On Tuesday, the commission hosted area health care officials for the annual Moffat County Board of Health meeting. The county's health care report card was the primary topic.

Brown said the report is concerning, but there's also an opportunity for change and improvement.

“As far as the whole cycle of change is concerned, we’re at the preliminary stage, which is awareness,” Brown said. “I think there’s definitely an opportunity here … to continue to have conversations and to realize it’s possible to have positive change.”

Commissioner Tom Gray said he's already beginning to see community members take ownership of their health.

“I think awareness is an important first step and I’ve had some personal conversations with people who have decided to make some positive changes in their lifestyle,” he said. “I think that’s where it needs to start.

“I don’t think there is anything we can do (as government officials and healthcare providers) to make people eat healthier, aside from education.”

But, Scott Ellis, Moffat County medical advisor and chief of staff at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, said true lifestyle changes aren't always enough for people to lead healthier lives. Economics plays a pivotal role in public health, he said, particularly when it comes to obesity.

“Lifestyle diseases caused by excessive smoking, drinking and obesity are incredibly costly on the public health care system,” Ellis said. “I’ve seen the economics of this. It’s much easier for a family of four or five to drive through McDonald's than it is to eat healthier foods, which are unfortunately more expensive.”

Officials continued to discuss ways to encourage healthy life choices, but debated where government intervention might infringe on the rights of individuals to make their own decisions.

They reached the conclusion that government intervention is not the way to encourage healthier behavior.

However, Ellis said addressing smoking, drinking and obesity in any form would lead to clear improvement in the county's overall health profile.

“The single biggest thing that occurred in public health in the entire last century was (the campaign against smoking) during the late 1960s and early 1970s … it has had a remarkable effect,” Ellis said. “If you could hit those three major players — smoking, drinking and obesity — you would do a lot to improve the wellbeing of the community.”


Michelle Hale 4 years, 11 months ago

There is help! I can help with all of the above. I am a HYPNOTIST, and I live in Hayden. Everything talked about in the above artical hypnosis can help with if a person make that choice to find change in their lifes. Hypnosis and walking away from the smoking habit is about 89% successful. I have attempted to contact people at the new hospital and have a STOP SMOKING Clinic, and I haven't heard back from them yet. My schedule is very flexable, and I give group discounts. Hypnosis is easy, effective, and ever-lasting change. It is also wonderful for Chronic Pain, Pre & Post Op, Cancer, Diabetic issues, PTSD, Stress reduction, Motovation, Test Skills, Painless Childbirth, Sleeplessness, and much much more. I love to help people, and love what I do. If you are looking for real change in your health and life, please call me. Colorado Hypnosis & Healing. 970-401-3986, leave me a message and we will get a plan together for your success.

Michelle E. Hale


yamparob 4 years, 11 months ago

For one here in Moffat county to be 'aware' that there is a poor health problem, all one has to do is go shopping. All the shopping carts stuffed with white breads, sodas, cookies, cow milk, and other toxic foods are being pushed by enormous people. The clothing shops all have extra, extra, extra large clothing on the racks. Hey, the city should approve some more fast food places. My experience here is that any 'educational' effort will be a REAL challenge. Just trying to find a good variety of fresh organic foods and grass fed beef is almost impossible. And this is supposedly beef country. And a good selection of fresh non-farm raised fish? hah! Good Luck


yampafamily 4 years, 11 months ago

To become a healthier community we need to get out and get moving. As a family we spend a lot of our free time taking our kids to the many parks that Craig has to offer. We also use both the middle school & high school tracks. These are all great. However, if there was one thing that I would love to see Craig offer, it would be more side walks or a large walking path. We have used the path that stretches from Sunset School to B street, where it just ends. Not really sure what the point of it was & rarely do I ever see anyone use it. Are there plans to add onto it & make it more of a complete path?


colorado_22 4 years, 11 months ago

It was a huge eye-opener for me to read the reports that blatantly stated how unhealthy Moffat County is. I, sadly, am one of the residents who contribute to these negative statistics, and I now, more than ever, am taking steps to better my health. This is such a difficult process, and one that takes commitment and a GREAT deal of effort. If there is a committee formed to help get our community healthier, I would love to become a part of it. There are some underlying problems with our community that should be addressed.

  1. Sidewalks, or lackthereof. There are spotty sidewalks in this town. Me and my girlfriends "joke" that we don't dare wear expensive high-heeled shoes in Craig because they will be ruined in 1 day. All jokes aside, I feel uncomfortable walking and/or jogging sometimes because there aren't sidewalks. This really isn't a problem in the warmer months, but in the winter with the ice and snow on the roads, it's very difficult to exercise outside with there being no sidewalks.

  2. Attitudes of the community. I debated getting a bicycle to ride to work and such to burn some extra calories, but I was hesitant to do so because I didn't want people in Craig to think I HAD to ride a bike because I got a DUI and lost my license, basically I was afraid of being judged. I saw my eye doctor riding his bike in a suit and it made me feel better about the situation. I have heard MANY people throughout my years in Craig express similar opinions. It's sad that people in Craig are afraid to obtain healthier lifestyles by walking or biking because they are afraid of judgement. All I can say there is that please people, don't be so quick to judge others. To those who are afraid of the judgement, WHO CARES! Empower yourself and please stop caring what others think if it means compromising your health! I LOVE my new bike (which I purchased locally from J & R, they are great!) Every time I ride it I feel exhilarated!

  3. Substance Abuse. Again, I am guilty here of drinking too much alcohol, too regularly, and I smoke cigarettes. We all know that Craig has a substance abuse problem whether it be drugs or alcohol. BTW, both alcohol and nicotine are considered drugs. I don't quite know how to change this dependence in Craig, obviously this is a huge feat, but I am going to do my part by decreasing my alcohol use, and by quitting smoking!! There should be A. More recreational activities available in Craig to try and off-set the dependence on alcohol and drug use, and B. There should be local support groups for people quitting abuse. It doesn't have to be huge, but SOMEthing. How about a book club? Folks could get together that have issues with smoking, or drinking, or eating disorders, or obesity problems, and read a book per month (like a motivational book or something) that pertains to their mutual issues.

There are a variety of things that can happen here, and I completely support any efforts anyone in this community makes.


Jason Phillips 4 years, 11 months ago

yampafamily - while I share your desire to see the community get healthier... I don't feel like the solution is more sidewalks or trails. That is an urban city problem. You have an abundance of options available in Craig - you already listed the two tracks, you've got Loudy Simpson to the south, the sand rocks to the North, Ridgeview to the West, Cedar Mountain is a quick drive away... Moreover, I think the town is already ideal for leisurely strolls - traffic isn't bad, there are plenty of sidewalks and the city keeps everything pretty well maintained relative to their big city counterparts.

I feel like there are a lot of valid complaints about Craig, but access to outdoor exercise is the least of the problems. If you aren't accessing it, that is on you.


calicolorado 4 years, 11 months ago

How about reduce government assistance? Recently at the grocery store, I witnessed two severely obese YOUNG women making their purchase ALL junk food-numerous cheese in a can, cookies, chips, generic soda and microwave meals. There was nothing fresh and nothing remotely healthy in their overflowing baskets. And of course they paid with food stamps. I recognized these women as individuals living at Columbine, who have small children. Children who will most likely be obese and unhealthy at a very young age, judging by what they are fed. So, we the hard working tax payers are paying for the housing, food, utilities and the ridiculous medical expenses that follow for these individuals. Not to mention, they probably receive some type of government assistance check every month-to spend on cigarettes and alcohol typically. I doubt any type of “education” will help this situation. These individuals have no incentive to do anything, but take away the freebies and they might do something productive. At the very least, make these people do some type of “work” for their government assistance. I’m tired of paying for their unhealthy lifestyle!


Rebelgirl 4 years, 11 months ago

You shouldnt have to feel like you are being judged for walking or riding your bike. Go for it, you are atleast attempiting to better yourself. You will be judged no matter what you do by someone. Just think of how much better you will feel and look if you keep it up. Those who see what a change you have made may even be inspired to join in rather than make false judgments. As for welfare there are many families that dont use the system and are just as guilty for buying junk at the stores. Families need to make better choices, more so the parents do. If you are unhealthy and eat junk but tell your kids not to, what are the chances they will? Parents need to live by example. Buy fruits and veggies vs. a bag of chips, cookies or ice cream. Use sweets as treats once or twice a week. Eat healthy balanced meals, with larger portions of fresh food. Boxed foods shoud be limited or completley taken out of diets, mac and cheese, frozen meals, canned soups and pastas, and pre made processed foods are loaded with salt, fat, and chemicals. Also limited fast food to once a week or less, acctually make dinner at home. There are websites that have dinner ideas that are fast and inexpensive, so you dont have to use the excuse you dont have time. There are aso ideas for make ahead dinners, you spend one or two days a week cooking for the other three or for. As a parent you are setting up your child for a life of healthy choices or a life of health problems. You dont have to turn into a gym rat, its simple little things that add up. Take your kids for a walk or to the park in the evening or on weekends. Encourage them to play sports, it doesnt have to be school related there are plenty of summer programs. Get out there and hit a ball with them or pay catch or frisbee show them its fun. Excerise doesnt have to be a torture. If money is the issue get other families involved and do group activities. For having a mulititude of hiking/biking trails, parks, recreational sites and other outdoor activities there is no reason people cannot be more active. Its to easy to make excuses or say your to busy but in the end the only person you hurt is yourself.


myopinion1 4 years, 11 months ago

how many of you people are calling the kettle black


Michelle Hale 4 years, 11 months ago


For those who look for reasons not to change they will all be there willing to serve you. Or, choose the other. Eat fresh, local, and healthy. Lower you use of meat as a protein, move more, and eat less. Remove corn, soy, and sugar. Walk for 10 to 15 min. a day. There are many things you can embrace to be better. Drinking a large glass of water before a meal (most of us don't drink enough water.)

I am always kind of shocked when people come to me seeking change. They want everything in life to change, and do NOTHING to embrace it. For people who want to loose weight (and I kid you not) I have heard this. I say: "You must go home and clean out all the crap food you have in your house". Answer: "But what will my kids eat?" True story. Or, I hear, but my family doesnt want to change. Well who buys the food, who taught them?

There is eating to live and living to eat. American have forgotten, it shouldn't be a past time, but a need that is filled. Drive past McDonnals, go home fix a salad. EAT SLOWLY, drink water with lemon juice in it. Eat on a smaller plate. Eat a meal that is only the size of your fist, because that is the size of your stomach, and your heart. Eat living whole foods, move more eat less. Lower your stress. Find reasons to laugh. There will always be reasons NOT to move forward, its all about choice. One of my favorite quotes. LIFE IS DIVIDED BY CONSCIOUS AND SUBCONSCIOUS CHOICE. IF YOU DO NOT CHOOSE YOU LIVE BY DEFAULT..... (still a choice.) Go to you Doc, get a plan. If you need help come to me, I can help you. I will add make sure you get your thyroid checked, I for one have this issue and know how hard it can be.


Michelle E. Hale CH.t.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.