Excerpts of Utah ranked No. 2 healthiest state, by Carrie A. Moore, Deseret News
New data released in the United Health Foundation's 20th annual America's Health Rankings rate the Beehive State second only to Vermont in a broad measure of health and overall physical well-being. Utah ranked fifth last year, so the newest rating is a significant boost, health officials said.
The yearly report credited Utah with the lowest rates in the nation for smoking, cancer deaths, infant mortality and binge drinking, but found the availability of primary care physicians here limited compared with other areas.
It also noted a high "geographic disparity" regarding access to health services for those in remote rural areas, and cited a low rate of funding for public health as significant health challenges.Utah's spending was $60 per person for public health last year, compared with a national average of $94 per person and $150 per person in Vermont.
"We can't just say anymore that those white Mormons are healthy people," he said. "We have to assume some of these improvements are due both to public health practices and state policies," including a legislative mandate that children in Utah who meet the income guidelines qualify for government-funded health insurance.Though Utah's rate of obesity continues to increase at about the same rate as the rest of the nation, "we have a lower rate overall and a much lower rate than some parts of the nation, especially in the Southeast," Joy said.
Sundwall said he takes no comfort in the fact that Utahns were fifth best in the nation in the percentage of obese residents, noting 23 percent of Utahns still fall into that category.