Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Colorado Springs earns high marks in health surveys

BRIAN NEWSOME Updated: December 29, 2009 at 12:00 am

 

Move over diamonds, because Colorado Springs is a woman’s new best friend.

Colorado Springs is one of the best places in the U.S. to be a woman, according to a comprehensive look at health and quality of life measures. And, men, don’t fret. You aren’t too far behind.

The city ranked No. 10 out of 100 in a list for Women’s Health magazine that was based on 35 health and lifestyle indicators. A companion ranking in Men’s Health put Colorado Springs at No. 15 for the guys.

Although the city, overall, earns more high marks than low ones, the research also reveals sharp disparities between our strengths and failings.

Colorado Springs ranks near the top in the nation in both genders for fitness, for instance, but it trails behind most other cities when it comes to mental health, according to Matt Marion, deputy editor at Men’s Health, who helped lead the project. “If anything, that’s an important ranking to remember in the context of this really strong finish,” he said, “because it shows that there is work there (in Colorado Springs) that people still need to do.”

The magazines built the rankings on 35 criteria that were boiled down to scores in three areas: health, life and fitness. Criteria ran the gamut from basic health indicators such as mortality and prevalence rates for a host of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes to lifestyle measures such as commute times, the ratio of single women to men, and cost of living. Data was compiled from a combination of publicly available statistics and surveys conducted by market researchers, Marion said.

The friendliest city for women was San Jose, Calif. Two other Colorado cities also fared well. Aurora ranked No. 4, and Denver came in at No. 21. The worst city for women was Philadelphia.

For men, Seattle came in at No. 1. Colorado Springs dropped to 15, between Yonkers, N.Y., and Virginia Beach, Va.

Different rankings for men and women were expected, Marion said, and the difference between ranking No. 10 and No. 15 in Colorado Springs was small by comparison. Some of the health indicators used in the analysis were the same for both genders, while others were different. Men’s Health examined the number of urologists per capita and incidences of prostate cancer for its ranking, while Women’s Health looked at access to obstetrician/gynecologists and cases of breast cancer.

City rankings on specific topics are a staple feature of the two magazines, but the rankings usually zero in on a specific topic for that magazine’s readers. Colorado Springs came in third in a past Men’s Health article, for example, for dangerously drunk cities.

This ranking, though, is done once a year and is the only joint effort of the two publications, Marion said. He said the indicators reflect an effort to compile the most comprehensive look at a city’s overall health and livability.

This is not the first survey to give Colorado Springs high marks for health and lifestyle. Over the years we’ve ranked among the fittest cities and best places to live.

But the city has also appeared on a few “worst” lists, too. In addition to the previous Men’s Health rankings on cities with drinking problems, a study by the National Association of City and County Health Officials showed Colorado Springs to have the second-highest suicide rate in the country.

The recently released Rodale listings, in the two magazines’ January/February editions, reflect that as well. Marion said men in Colorado Springs had the third-highest suicide rate in the nation, according to his data. The rate for women was lower, but it remained in the top third in the U.S.

Surprisingly, given Colorado’s affinity for fitness and its statewide indoor smoking ban, Colorado Springs ranked 33rd nationally for having the most current smokers.

Call Newsome at 636-0198. Visit the Pikes Peak Health blog at www.pikespeakhealth.freedomblogging.com and the Gazette’s Health page at Gazette.com/health

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