County health report evaluates current, future health risks for Utah residents

Wednesday , March 29, 2017 - 5:00 AM

LEIA LARSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff


The latest county health rankings are out, and most Northern Utah residents are in good shape. 

The 2017 County Health Rankings Report grades counties on the current health of their residents, or “Health Factors,” and their opportunities for future good health, or “Health Outcomes.”

The rankings use a pool of national data sources and evaluates a variety of risk factors, from substance abuse and risky sexual behavior to education and income to environmental quality.  

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The current report ranks Morgan County No. 1 in Utah for Health Factors because of the county’s low rates of adult obesity, smoking, inactivity, drinking, sexual infections and teen pregnancy. Cache County ranks fourth in health factors, Davis County ranks fifth and Box Elder County ranks seventh of Utah’s 27 ranked counties.

Weber County fell near the bottom of the pack for Health Factors at No. 21.

The county had a particularly high teen birth rate, with 38 out of every 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 giving birth, compared to a state average of 26. The county has higher rates of children in poverty, a higher rate of children in single parent households, more violent crime and more injury deaths, too. Weber County also had higher rates of adult smoking, adult obesity and heavy drinking than state averages.

Weber County fell behind state averages in educational attainment and employment. 

The report isn’t all bad news for Weber residents. At 17 percent, the county is near the state’s low 16 percent average for rates of physical inactivity. Weber County also had better access to exercise opportunities and a lower rate of alcohol-impaired driving deaths than state figures. 

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In Health Outcomes, Cache County ranked No. 2, Morgan County ranked No. 4, Davis County ranked No. 5, Box Elder County ranked No. 9 and Weber County ranked No. 12 out of the 27 assessed counties. Cache, Morgan, and Davis counties have particularly low rates of premature death compared to the state average and the nation’s top performing counties.

Weber County had a higher rate of premature deaths than the state average. The county had 2,191 deaths before age 75 from 2012 to 2014, which the report calculates as 6,800 years per of potential life lost per 100,000 people. Statewide, the report calculates an average of 5,900 years of potential life lost per 100,000.

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Nationally, rates of premature death continue to rise in all racial and ethnic groups and in both rural and urban communities. Drug overdose was the single biggest cause and created a surge in early deaths from 2014 to 2015. Drug overdose rates were highest among whites and Native Americans.

Drug use has seen a notable shift in the suburbs, which saw the lowest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016. Ten years later, suburbs now have the highest rate of overdose death. 

For young adults ages 15 to 24, car crashes and firearms also accounted for an uptick in deaths. 

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The County Health Rankings is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. It’s their eight year producing the report.

To review current and past years’ data, visit

Contact reporter Leia Larsen at, follow her on Twitter at @LeiaLarsen or like her on Facebook at

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