According to a new report, Utah's healthiest counties are places where residents take responsibility for their health -- they smoke less and exercise more. They are also places where more people are employed, insured and educated.
Those lifestyles translate into longer and healthier lives. By such measures, Morgan County is considered Utah's healthiest, and Carbon County is the unhealthiest.
That's according to a report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The groups ranked the overall health of counties across the nation in their County Health Rankings.
Teresa Garrett, deputy director for public health practice at the Utah Department of Health, said the report can help communities focus on ways to help residents live better.
The incentive reaches beyond creating healthier lives: "You can't have a healthy economy without having healthy citizens," she said.
Researchers ranked the counties' health by measuring the rate of people dying before age 75 and the percentage of people who report being in fair or poor health, both physically and mentally, and the rate of low birth weight babies.
Researchers also ranked counties by health factors such as rates of smoking, obesity, binge drinking, teenage pregnancy, insurance and high school graduation, along with access to healthful foods and air pollution levels.
Utah's top 10 healthiest counties were generally the highest ranking counties for health factors. But there were anomalies: San Juan is ranked as the 10th healthiest but the worst when it comes to health factors such as access to care and education, employment and social support.
And Kane County is eighth best for health factors but 20th for health outcomes.
Garrett said it makes sense that counties with better-educated and employed residents are healthier: They would have insurance, better access to doctors and the education to understand health messages.
"It truly does make a difference," she said.
To view the full report, go to www.countyhealthrankings.org. The state's counties are ranked based on premature death rates and quality of life, based on self-reported health.
7. Box Elder
9. Salt Lake
10. San Juan
Daggett, Piute, Rich and Wayne were not ranked.
Source » County Health Rankings