Utah ranked No. 2 healthiest state

If you worked out, took the stairs, ate an apple or chose water over soda for lunch Tuesday, yours were among the millions of daily choices Utahns make to rank as the second healthiest state in the nation.

New data released in the United Health Foundation's 20th annual America's Health Rankings rate the Beehive State second only to Vermont in a broad measure of health and overall physical well-being. Utah ranked fifth last year, so the newest rating is a significant boost, health officials said.

The yearly report credited Utah with the lowest rates in the nation for smoking, cancer deaths, infant mortality and binge drinking, but found the availability of primary care physicians here limited compared with other areas.

It also noted a high "geographic disparity" regarding access to health services for those in remote rural areas, and cited a low rate of funding for public health as significant health challenges.

Utah's ranking was a pleasant surprise to health officials, who often deal with both the results of poor health choices and a relatively large gap in funding for public health programs.

Utah's spending was $60 per person for public health last year, compared with a national average of $94 per person and $150 per person in Vermont.

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