Are We Failing?! Local Expert Grades Utah, USA On Health Habits
We absolutely, positively have got to do better when it comes to our health.
I sat down with Dr. David Blodgett, the public health director for the Southern Utah region (Five Counties) and had him grade how we were doing in 10 key areas of health during the Andy Griffin Show today.
The truth is, we're not doing very well.
I say this not to discourage us, but to hopefully point out that we need to do better individually and as a society at taking better care of ourselves.
Here are the grades and some comments by Dr. Blodgett. The grades are based on the typical A, B, C, D, F school grading pattern and I had the good doctor give us grades for the nation as a whole and the state of Utah (and Southern Utah specifically on a couple of the categories):
- Physical Activity
- USA -- D-minus
- Utah -- C-minus
Dr. Blodgett: "About 25 percent of Americans exercise on a regular basis. And the number of people who get pretty much no physical activity is also in that 25 percent range. We're just not doing well with physical activity."
- Excess weight
- USA -- F
- Utah -- D
Dr. Blodgett: "It's a huge problem. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight. And 30 percent are obese, which is a BMI above 30. All of the consequences of being overweight -- heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases -- shoot up there because of that extra weight."
- Tobacco use
- USA -- B
- Utah -- B-plus
- Southern Utah -- A-minus
Dr. Blodgett: "We are a little better than the rest of the country in this category. But not a ton. In the country, still about 20 percent of adults smoke or vape. Here in Southern Utah it's about 8 or 9 percent."
- Substance abuse
- USA -- D
- UTAH -- C
Dr. Blodgett: "The trends are going the wrong direction. There's a whole swathe of Middle America that's in trouble. Illegal drugs, alcohol, prescription abuse (all of these), We call them deaths of despair."
- USA -- C
- Utah -- C
Dr. Blodgett: "There was a time where I thought we were starting to win the battle with HIV/AIDS. But the trend is reversed. We're actually seeing more cases of it now than we have in quite some time. When I first started this job, we would see a case every two or three years. Now it's once a month in Southern Utah."
- Mental health
- USA -- Incomplete
- Utah -- Incomplete
Dr. Blodgett: "The trends are in the wrong direction. The biggest problem is access. There simply aren't enough practitioners to meet the demand of what people need to have." *Note: Dr. Blodgett referenced Southwest Behavioral Center as having a more accurate picture of Southern Utah's mental health.
- USA – B-
- UTAH – B+
Dr. Blodgett: "We're actually doing pretty well in this category. One example is the design of cars. There was a time when automobile accidents were second or third leading cause of death for people under the age of 65."
- Environmental quality
- USA – A-minus
- UTAH -- A-minus
Dr. Blodgett: "The standards have gotten progressively better. Drinking water is of exceptional quality just about anywhere in America. It was a bell-shaped curve in America. You went through the industrial revolution, did a lot of polluting, then figured out ways to bring it back down. But in places like China the curve went up and never came back down."
- USA – B-plus
- UTAH -- A-minus
- Southern Utah -- B
Dr. Blodgett: "Until the Covid crisis, I would have said we were doing pretty well. But one of the backlashes of the whole Covid message fiasco is that immunization rates are dropping. A lot of people are saying they just don't trust the government anymore. People forget how bad some of those diseases (like pertussis and polio) really were."
- Access to healthcare
- USA -- C
- UTAH -- C
"The problem now isn't so much access to health care as it is access to affordable health care. Health care is better than it's ever been as far as what it can offer. But cost wise, it's worse than it's ever been. The sheer cost of health care is a major limiting factor."
Blodgett wrapped up his health assessment on a positive note, adding that we are living longer now than any period in modern history and that many scary and deadly diseases have been all but eradicated.
For the full show, click here.
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