Fountain residents drink less, weigh more

July 19, 2005
Folks in Fountain apparently like to eat, but compared with the rest of the county, they don’t seem to have a big problem with booze. A higher percentage of Fountain residents are overweight than their counterparts across El Paso County, but people there engage in binge drinking at a lower rate, according to a health survey.
The results of the survey were released to community leaders Monday night, and a town forum is planned July 30 at Fountain-Fort Carson High School for all residents. Seventy percent of respondents reported being overweight or obese, and 62 percent said that poor physical or mental health kept them from their regular routines in the month before the survey. Only 11 percent reported they had recently consumed five or more drinks at one sitting — the definition of binge drinking. The Fountain survey, conducted in March, had 830 respondents. The same survey was conducted countywide during the last three months of 2004. By comparison, nearly 57 percent of respondents in the countywide survey reported being overweight or obese, and 18 percent engaged in binge drinking. In the binge drinking category, “it was clear to us that the Fountain folks are in a considerably better situation than El Paso County as a whole,” said Ann Zielinski, a community health planner for the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment. The community does better in another public health area: hand washing. One of the big surprises from the countywide survey was that just over half of the respondents said they always washed their hands after using the restroom. “Everyone was very anxious to see how the hand washing of Fountain compared, and Fountain was better,” said Ann Zielinski, a community health planner. Sixty percent of Fountain respondents said they always washed after a trip to the bathroom, compared with 56 per-cent countywide. In addition, 71 percent in Fountain said they always wash before preparing a meal or handling food, compared with a county rate of 64 percent. Because of the hand-washing answers, county health officials plan to launch a handwashing campaign in the fall, just before the start of the flu season, said Susan Wheelan, spokeswoman for the Health Department. The Fountain survey was done through a collaboration among the Health Department, the city of Fountain and Penrose-St. Francis Health Service, which obtained a grant. Zielinski said the goal is to do the survey in other communities, too. Libby Evans, a member of the Health Department’s citizens committee for public health, said the goal of the July 30 community forum is to form focus groups to tackle areas deemed troublesome by residents. FOUNTAIN HEALTH SURVEY RESULTS - 11 percent said they did not have health insurance. - 23 percent said they were unable to get a needed prescription because of cost. - 98 percent said they had heard of West Nile virus, with 23 percent saying they used insect repellent most times they went outdoors. - 11 percent of adults reported binge drinking. In the 18-25 age range, 10 percent reported engaging in binge drinking. - 35 percent reported having high cholesterol. - 59 percent reported they were trying to lose weight, and 70 percent of respondents were overweight or obese. - 9 percent reported eating three or more servings of fruit per day. - When asked to rate health areas that needed attention, 50 percent or more listed the following issues: child abuse/neglect, clean water for drinking, cost of health care, drug abuse, drinking and driving, hazardous waste dumping, methamphetamine labs and youth/gang violence.
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