Garfield ranked 17th healthiest county in state |

Garfield ranked 17th healthiest county in state

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

Garfield County is the 17th healthiest county in Colorado, according to a national study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Now in its second year, the study, released on Wednesday, for the second time named Douglas County on the Front Range as the healthiest county in Colorado in terms of “health outcomes.”

Pitkin County, however, was awarded No. 1 status in terms of “health factors,” and third place in health outcomes.

Garfield County’s 17th place was in the health-outcomes category, but the county dropped to 23rd place in the health factors column.

The two categories – health outcomes and health factors – reflect the study’s methods for establishing the rankings.

Health outcomes, according to the study website, give equal consideration to mortality, or how long people live, and “morbidity,” or quality of life as measured by physical and mental health.

Health factors reflect a much broader array of variables covering health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic standing and the physical environment present in the county.

The study’s results, with a range of notes and explanations, can be found at

According to the study’s findings for Garfield County, residents here are slightly more likely to die a premature death than the statewide average, and are more likely to consider themselves in “poor or fair health” than the statewide average, by a margin of 16 percent in Garfield to 13 percent statewide.

Fewer Garfield County residents are cigarette smokers than statewide, but the statistical difference is slight – 18 percent in the county, 19 percent in the state.

Also, fewer Garfield County residents are obese than is true around the state, by a margin of 15 percent to 19 percent, and only 7 percent of county newborns are likely to be at a low birth weight, compared to 8 percent statewide.

But the county matches the state in terms of heavy drinking, which comes in at 18 percent of the population for both.

Garfield County residents are slightly less educated than residents statewide, when it comes to a high school diploma and some college, fewer children in Garfield County live in poverty, and there are fewer single-parent households.

Also, more county residents said they have access to healthy foods and recreational facilities than respondents statewide.

Among Garfield County’s neighboring counties, Eagle came in 3rd in health outcomes and 12th in health factors, while Gunnison captured 10th place in both categories.

Rio Blanco took 22nd place in health factors, and 33rd place in health outcomes, and Mesa County came in at 30th place for health outcomes and 32nd place for health factors.

The least healthy county in the state, according to the study results, is Huerfano, in the south-central part of the state. Huerfano County is ranked 57th.

Seven counties in Colorado were not ranked by the study. Those include Jackson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Mineral, Hinsdale, San Juan and Dolores counties, which all have very small populations.

According to the study’s website, a total of 124 “counties or county equivalents” nationwide were not ranked “due to insufficient data.”

As a word of caution, the study advises against comparisons among counties or states.

According to the website, “the major goal of the rankings is to raise awareness about the many factors that influence health and that health varies from place to place.”

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