Routt County 5th healthiest counties in the country, according to U.S. News rankings
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County has once again been recognized as one of the healthiest counties in the U.S., according to the U.S. News Healthiest Communities rankings.
The county is the fifth healthiest in the country, according to the rankings, which are based on 80 indicators across 10 categories that drive health outcomes.
The project evaluated nearly 3,000 counties, which were scored on population health, equity, education, economy, housing, food and nutrition, environment, public safety, community vitality and infrastructure.
Colorado performed well, with six of the healthiest 10 counties being in the state.
The top-ranked county was Los Alamos County, New Mexico, followed by Douglas County, Colorado, in second and Falls Church City, Virginia, in third. For a complete list of the rankings, visit usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/rankings.
This is not the first time Routt County has been highlighted for its health. In 2017, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation deemed Routt County the fourth healthiest county in Colorado, up from seventh place in 2016, fifth in 2015 and 11th in 2014. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified Routt County as the fittest county based on survey results.
The reason for these health accolades, according to Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith, is the area’s consistently positive performance in several key health metrics, including life expectancy, smoking rates and the number of residents with health insurance.
“I think those metrics all help us be really high in that health score,” Smith said.
Another major factor is easy access to the outdoors, she added, and a general interest among residents to exercise and eat healthy. There also is relatively high access to human services, Smith said, from county-operated assistance programs to LiftUp of Routt County’s food bank.
The aim of the U.S. News rankings is to empower citizens, health care leaders and officials to guide decisions and policies to improve the overall health of communities.
Routt County has seen notable improvements in the availability of mental health services, Smith said, along with strong funding for anti-smoking campaigns. It is her hope these and other initiatives continue to improve the quality of life for residents. Having metrics like these rankings is an important way to measure progress and identify areas in need of improvement.
“As our county grows and changes, we want to make sure we are doing appropriate needs assessments,” Smith said.
While Routt County ranks high in certain metrics, it is not perfect. Inequities remain, particularly for residents of lower income levels who struggle to find affordable housing and adequate health insurance.
For this reason, Smith believes it is vital in the coming years to continue pursuing health equity programs for all ages and income levels.
As she said, “We can always be healthier.”
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