Health study gives Mesa County mixed review

A recent snapshot of health data in Mesa County compared with other counties across Colorado reveals that there is work to be done to convince local residents to lead healthier lives.

Of the 64 counties across the state, Mesa County ranks 33rd in terms of health factors and outcomes, or how many citizens engage in unhealthy behaviors and the resulting after-effects of those unhealthy decisions.

The numbers are part of a report released last week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It includes a snapshot of every county in the nation, based on analysis of survey data calculated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other Medicare claims data nationwide.

Unhealthy behaviors are primarily to blame for dragging down Mesa County’s overall numbers, according to the study.

One in five Mesa County adults smokes, two percentage points higher than the statewide average.

Twenty-two percent of Mesa County residents are considered obese, or report a body mass index reading of more than 30. That also is two points higher than Colorado’s average.

The study pegs Mesa County’s rate of motor vehicle crash deaths at 16 per 100,000 in population, four more than the statewide rate.

The county’s teen birth rate — or the number of young mothers giving birth per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 — is 48. The statewide number is just 40.

Mesa County measured well in the category of Clinical Care, however, ranking eighth of the state’s 64 counties. That may not necessarily be a surprise, considering the area’s collaborative approach to medical services that has been held up as a model nationally in the past.

Mesa County outpaces the rest of the state in preventable hospital stays, diabetic screenings and mammography screenings. There is one primary care physician for every 1,076 people in Mesa County, far better than the state’s ratio of one physician for every 1,287 Colorado residents.

There are a few other specific measurements of note in the study.

The percentage of Mesa County residents with some college education is 61 percent, as compared to the statewide percentage of 68.

Mesa County’s violent crime rate of 303 per 100,000 in population is below Colorado’s rate of 334 per 100,000.

In terms of access to healthier options and alternatives, Mesa County counts 9 percent of the population that is low-income and does not live near a grocery store. That compares with a state number of 6 percent.

And the percentage of restaurants in Mesa County that are considered fast-food establishments is a whopping 52 percent, above the state percentage of 45 percent.

See results for any county in the nation online at www.


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