(SALT LAKE CITY) —Utah continued its steady climb toward becoming the healthiest state in the nation with the release of the annual United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings™ report. The report named Utah the 5th healthiest state in the nation, improving on its rank of 6th in 2013 and 7th in 2012.
The report highlighted several strengths that lead to Utah’s ranking, including the lowest rates in the nation for tobacco use (10.3%) and cancer deaths (145.7 deaths per 100,000 residents), and the second-lowest rate in the nation of adult diabetes (7.1%).
“One of our strategic goals is to become the healthiest state in the nation, and I’m pleased that we are continuing to work in that direction,” said David Patton, executive director of the Utah Department of Health. “Utah should be proud of this ranking, it’s evidence that our strong public health and health care systems are doing right by the people of our state.”
Utah was ranked as one of the top five states for several key health indicators, including:
• The lowest adult smoking rate in the U.S. at 10.3%;
• The lowest prevalence of adult diabetes at 7.1%;
• The lowest rate of children living in poverty at 9.2%;
• The 2nd lowest rate of preventable hospitalizations;
• The 4th lowest rate of obese adults at 24.1%;
• The 4th lowest rates of binge drinking, Chlamydia cases, and Salmonella cases; and
• The 5th lowest rate of adults reporting “poor physical health” days in the past month.
The report also highlighted several challenges Utah must overcome to achieve its goal of becoming the healthiest state.
“Unfortunately, even in our strengths we find challenges,” Patton said. “Compared to other states our obesity and physical inactivity rates are low, but both rates are trending upward. Obesity can lead to several chronic, deadly diseases; it’s entirely preventable and remains one of the top public health challenges of our time.”
Other challenges the report highlighted were Utah’s high rate of prescription drug deaths, low immunization rates among teens, and the limited availability of primary care providers.
The state’s lowest rankings were:
• 46th for prescription drug overdose deaths;
• 45th for cases of Pertussis, or whooping cough;
• 44th for teen immunization rates;
• 44th for the number of primary care physicians;
• 39th for air pollution.
The entire report is available online at www.americashealthrankings.org.
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Tom Hudachko | Public Information Officer
Utah Department of Health