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The Wasatch Behind: Unhealty Carbon County

Sun Advocate Columnist

Well folks, it's official. Carbon County is the unhealthiest place to live in Utah. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin did the study, so we know it must be true. They ranked Morgan County as healthiest in the state. Utah County is fourth. Salt Lake County ranks number nine. Emery County is number 11. Duchesne and Uintah counties are down at the bottom of the list with Carbon.

The study ranked the counties using things like the number of people dying before age 75, the number of people reported to be in poor physical or mental health, the rate of obesity and the number of low birth weight babies. Researchers also considered the number of smokers in the county, access to healthy food, binge drinking, teen pregnancy, air pollution levels, unemployment, social services availability, liquor store density and single-parent households. Things like the number of people without health insurance, the percentage of high school graduates and the numbers of college educated folks were also factored in.

To quote the Salt Lake Tribune, "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."

There you have it, you lazy, fat, uneducated, unemployed, uninsured, sick, junk food addicted, binge drinking losers. How does it feel to be at the bottom of the list?

I showed this report to Uncle Spud and he threw a fit.

"I can understand them using mortality rates and health statistics," Spud sputtered, "But how do they factor in social services, education and environment? Are we to believe that access to Planned Parenthood makes us healthier? Does having a master's degree exempt one from gallstones? Does bovine flatulence in our rural environment subject us to increased rates of respiratory distress, and how do we measure that?"

"It seems to me there is more than one way to interpret some of this data. For instance, just hearing about what happens at Planned Parenthood makes me sick. Some of the biggest pukes I ever knew were highly educated idiots. And, if air pollution levels are a factor, how come Utah County came out smelling like a rose? Maybe it's because they put those big fans at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon to blow the smog back toward Salt Lake?

"And then, I have other questions about this study. I want to know who and how they measured binge drinking. What is a binge drink? I buy bottled water, Pepsi, and Maalox once in a while, but I've never seen a bottle of Binge in a store anywhere in Carbon County. Binge must be something they put in the drinking water."

"What about the 'density' of liquor stores? Does that mean real thick liquor stores, stupid liquor stores, or just lots of regular liquor stores? We have one liquor store in Price to serve both Carbon and Emery counties. Morgan County doesn't have a liquor store. They travel 30 miles to Ogden to buy booze. I guess that makes them healthier. Maybe they ride their bikes."

"And then, how did they decide that 20 percent of Carbonites smoke? That sounds a little high to me. Did they pick up butts on the sidewalk and do comparative DNA testing, or did they just count the binge drinkers who smoke? Maybe they asked someone on the street and he blew smoke up the study's aspirations? Did they divide the number of cigarettes sold by the population of the county? Did they consider that people from Emery and Grand counties shop in Price?"

"What about the obesity issue? The study says 25 percent of Carbonites are obese compared to only 19 percent of Morgan County residents. Sounds like the chow is better here in Carbon. Must be all of that good Italian, Greek, and Mexican cooking. What do they mean we don't have access to healthy food? The Mother Earth Eatery wouldn't stand a chance at an International Days cookout."

"Another question. How does insurance make you healthier? The study suggests that people with insurance go to the doctor more often. Big deal. Everyone knows the healthiest people are the ones who never go to the doctor."

"How were demographics factored in? Carbon has three times the population of Morgan. Forty-one percent of Carbon citizens and 47 percent of Morgan citizens are under the age of 25. Seniors over 65 are 13.3 percent of Carbon's population but only 8.7 percent in Morgan. People come here to retire. How does that affect the rate of doctor visits, disease, and overall health?"

"And finally, Carbon is a rural county. We travel a lot. Highway 6 and Highway 10 are crowded. Morgan County listed no highway fatalities during this study. Carbon had 23. Maybe that had something to do with more people dying under the age of 75. I don't think education, exercise, and lack of smoking will fix that problem, in spite of what the Salt Lake Tribune says.

"I wonder if the people who did this study worked on global warming?"

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