The 2012 County Health Ranking Report of all the counties in the US was released recently. Carbon and Emery counties were compared to every other county in Utah, then given a ranking. Overall, Emery county ranks 23rd out of 26 counties ranked; Carbon ranks 26th. In contrast Morgan and Cache counties were ranked 1st and 2nd.
Data that forms these rankings came from Centers for Disease Control, Dartmouth Health Atlas, and the US Census Bureau.
Areas explored were activities that people can control themselves or that the community or environment controls. These are factors such as number of premature death, number of poor physical health days, and rates of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption, and also clinical care such as diabetic screening and mammography.
The community/ environmental factors are things such as social support, number of physicians, employment level, air quality, recreational facilities, and access to healthy foods.
The most alarming numbers in both Emery and Carbon counties come from personal behavior. In Emery county 18 percent of adults smoke; obesity is an obstacle for 29 percent, while 22 percent are inactive (no or little physical activity).
In Carbon the rate is 19 percent who smoke, 24 percent considered obese, and 26 percent who are physically inactive. Residents of both counties take one more sick-day than people in other locations in Utah. Only half of Castle Valley women who should get mammograms do actually get them. Nationally three-quarters of women get mammography screenings.
This report was a collaboration of University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The aim of the County Health Ranking Report is to see where communities rank on factors that determine health, and to offer ways to improve public health.
The report and its accompanying "County Health Road Maps" can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
What does this mean for us as Castle Valley residents?
A quote from a 1942 USDA film, promoting victory gardens, comes to mind. "Each [garden] a health insurance policy, a door yard savings bank. Each a vitamin mine from which you can take stuff more precious than silver or gold. But remember what Grandpa says: "No work, no garden."
Get what that means. No work, no spuds. No work, no turnips. No tank, no flying fortress, no victory. Bear that in mind all you victory gardeners, and work for victory."
Not that many of us would be interested in turnips, but there are many other vegetables and fruits that grow well in our valley. As a gardener and farmers market participant, I encourage everyone who has a sunny spot to plant a tomato or cucumber, some radishes or lettuce.
We can counter the trend exposed in the health ranking report when we get active outside, keep our hands busy puttering in a garden rather than with a smoke or a random snack. We get social support when we converse about our patch of green. We also get healthier when we dine on that sun-ripened juicy orb, or crunchy fiber-filled salad.
There are many things over which we have no control. There are many other things over which we can take action; we can take a walk or dig in a garden plot. Let's see if we can rise Castle Valley's standing in the health ranking.