United Way of Weld County President and CEO Jeannine Truswell said the information from the data results of the Weld County Health Department’s new Weld Community Health Survey released Aug. 11 is essential to the work that United Way is able to do in the community. “Data tells us how we’re making progress on a number of social issues, which are also health issues,” said Truswell, one of six speakers at a news conference at the health department in Greeley. “Data helps us set priorities for housing, access to food, financial stability, youth success, school readiness and transportation, and overall how our communities are doing in general.”


JT at podiumTruswell said United Way’s partnership with the health department is vital because of the various professional services they provide every day. “One evidence of that is certainly this work and this data because it is absolutely essential for us to get baseline indicators to be able to see if indeed what we’re doing is making a difference,” Truswell said. “This gives us a way to create a road map for success. When we work together, we can make a huge difference.”

According to a news release from the health department, obesity, diabetes, food insecurity, and sugar sweetened beverage consumption are affecting some Weld County populations differently. The results consisted of 25 topic reports plus regional and key finding reports on community health data collected from a 65-item survey sent to more than 7,500 randomly selected Weld County residents from October 2013 to February 2014. Question topics included general health, health care access and insurance, health conditions and lifestyle habits, preventive screenings, environmental issues, community concerns and needs, demographics and the 2013 flood disaster.

There was a 28 percent response rate on the surveys. “The Community Health Survey is currently our best means of collecting population health data effectively,” said Dr. Mark E. Wallace, executive director of the Weld County Health Department. “We and our partners use these data to plan programs and initiatives to keep Weld residents safe and healthy.”Wallace said the health department’s partnership with United Way and the collection of data are important.“United Way has been instrumental in creating these strategic maps,” Wallace said.

Truswell said United Way continues to see areas in Weld County where people don’t have easy access to grocery stores, where they can’t buy fruit and vegetables in their neighborhood, where housing is difficult to obtain and rent consumes so much of the income of a family that they can’t imagine getting the kind of food their children need to be healthy. “In many families, both parents are working more than one job. That tends to be, in many families, the norm, not the exception,” Truswell said. “This means there’s less family time, less quality of life and opportunities to make healthy choices. In regards to overall health in our communities, we’re really in this together. I think the data and what this will provide for United Way in setting our direction for effectiveness in our programs really sets that baseline.”

The Community Health Assessment is distributed every three years in Weld County. The survey data are used to develop a legislatively mandated Community Health Improvement Plan that all health departments within Colorado must address.

Key findings from the report include:
• Despite the recent leveling off trend nationally, Weld County’s obesity rate increased by 16 percent between 2010 and 2013. Currently, nearly one out of three residents is obese but obesity affects some groups more than others. About four out of 10 Hispanic and Latino residents were obese compared to about two out of 10 non-Hispanic or Latino residents.
• Diabetes is becoming more common in Colorado and on the rise in Weld County. Between 2007 and 2013, the diabetes rate increased by 40 percent from 6.4 percent to 8.9 percent.
• Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption was higher among Greeley/Evans residents compared to residents living in the southeast portion of the county. SSB consumption was also higher among lower-income residents. Countywide, about four out of 10 (45 percent) residents drink sugar sweetened beverages at least once per day. Daily consumption of SSBs is associated with several chronic health conditions.
• Countywide, one out of 10 residents said they were worried about having enough money to buy nutritious meals, compared to two out of 10 Greeley/Evans residents, and four out of 10 low-income residents
• About three out of four residents do not meet the recommendation for fruit and vegetable consumption of five or more servings per day, however some residents appear to be improving their vegetable intake. The percentage of Weld County residents who consumed three or more servings of vegetables per day increased by 13 percent between 2010 and 2013 from 24 percent to 27 percent.
• While nearly three out of four residents said they participated in physical activity for exercise in the past month, this rate is slightly lower than national and Colorado rates.
• A very common theme for residents responding to the question “What suggestions do you have on ways to make Weld County a healthier place to live, work, and play?” was to have more parks, trails, and paths for walking and biking.

Group at data meetingSpeakers at the news conference in addition to Wallace and Truswell were Cindy Kronauge, health data specialist, Weld County Health Department; Mike Freeman, Weld County Board of County Commissioners; Vincent Atchity, chief operating officer, North Colorado Health Alliance and Martha Perkins, Milliken planner and community development director.

Kronauge said the health department will coordinate five community meetings throughout Weld County sharing the survey results to the public. All meetings are from 6-7 p.m. and begin with the first one on Sept. 1 at Centennial Park Library, 2227 23rd Ave., Greeley.
Other meetings are:

• Sept. 3 at Riverside Library, 3700 Golden St., Evans
• Sept. 8 at Fort Lupton Library, 425 S. Denver Ave., Fort Lupton
• Sept. 10 at Windsor-Severance Library, 720 Third St., Windsor
• Sept. 15 at Carbon Valley Library, 7 Park Ave., Firestone

To see more of the Community Health Assessment findings, visit: http://www.co.weld.co.us/Departments/HealthEnvironment/DataStatistics/2013CommunityHealthSurveyResults.html