Moffat County’s results in a recent health survey are mixed, with the county falling from 44th healthiest overall to the 47th healthiest of those surveyed in Colorado. However, some factors improved, such as health behaviors and health outcomes.

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Moffat County’s results in a recent health survey are mixed, with the county falling from 44th healthiest overall to the 47th healthiest of those surveyed in Colorado. However, some factors improved, such as health behaviors and health outcomes.

Your Health: Moffat County ranked 47th healthiest Colorado county

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Recent data released about the health of Northwest Colorado is illuminating, but people might not be getting the full picture based solely on these statistics, regional health professionals said.

Moffat County health rankings

Year of report

Category, Rank in Colorado out of 59 ranked counties

2014

Health outcomes and overall health, 47

Length of life, 49

Quality of life, 41

Health factors, 43

Health behaviors, 57

Clinical care, 52

Social and economic factors, 28

Physical environment, 25

2013

Health outcomes and overall health, 44

Length of life, 49

Quality of life, 41

Health factors, 47

Health behaviors, 59

Clinical care, 49

Social and economic factors, 27

Physical environment, 13

2012

Health outcomes and overall health, 50

Length of life, 47

Quality of life, 51

Health factors, 49

Health behaviors, 59

Clinical care, 53

Social and economic factors, 33

Physical environment, 11

2011

Health outcomes and overall health, 44

Length of life, 43

Quality of life, 47

Health factors, 45

Health behaviors, 55

Clinical care, 55

Social and economic factors, 31

Physical environment, 41

— Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

The 2014 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and released this week, identified Moffat County as the 47th healthiest county in Colorado out of 59 of the 64 counties in the state that were graded.

The overall ranking reflects the quality and length of life reported in recent years. For instance, premature death was on the rise in Moffat County compared to the rest of Colorado, with the years of potential life lost before the age of 75 in the populace estimated at 8,449 between 2008 and 2010, stacked up against the state’s 6,000.

Moffat County stayed exactly the same in the rankings of length of life — 49 — and quality of life — 41 — as in 2013’s results, though the percentage of people reported in poor or fair health in the county dropped from 20 percent to 16 percent.

Last year, Moffat County ranked as the 44th healthiest county overall.

The numbers involved in the rankings also take into account factors such as health behaviors, availability of clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment to determine the profile of each section of the state.

Health behaviors in particular hurt Moffat’s data, showing a ranking of 57 in this category with the amount of adults who were regular smokers, 22 percent; obese, 24 percent; or physically inactive, 26 percent — all higher than the state averages, according to data gathered from 2010 to 2012.

Yet, this is an improvement from 2013, when the county ranked dead last in the state in health behaviors for the second consecutive year.

The details from social and economic factors — which include graduation rates, unemployment and violent crime — and physical environment — air pollution, drinking water, severe housing problems and long commutes — are more middling for Moffat, which is a long way down the scale from neighboring counties Routt and Rio Blanco, which ranked 11th and 22nd in overall health, respectively.

However, a direct comparison of all three counties isn’t necessarily a good measure, said Charity Neal, director of public health for Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

“What we use these rankings for is the long-term trending, and if you get into the nitty-gritty of them, you see that it’s not really a current snapshot,” she said.

Besides different population sizes affecting things such as doctor-to-patient ratios in the clinical care category, the fact that the data collected was obtained mostly between 2010 and 2012 means it isn’t a completely accurate representation of the health of any of the counties involved at the moment, she said.

Counties in Northwest Colorado were right on the cusp of a designation as being medically underserved when many of these numbers were put together, and the aftereffects to resolve that likely will show up in future statistics.

What the rankings do provide is a tool for seeing where improvements are most needed. Neal said the positive trends for Moffat County since statistics were last compiled, such as a decrease in smoking, still are encouraging.

“It speaks to Moffat County wanting to take more responsibility in its health and health factors,” she said.

A greater commitment to improving the health of the area will still take a lot of work if Moffat County wants to see better rankings in the years to come, but the improving level of options within the region also will contribute to the payoff in the end.

“We have more and more resources available to people, and I think increased access to care is going to make a huge difference,” Neal said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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