Comments about ‘Mormon health code puts Salt Lake City in top 25 happiest and healthiest cities in US’

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Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 12:50 p.m. MDT

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A Scientist
Provo, UT

Who says it is the "Mormon health code" that is responsible? Only around 1/2 of Salt Lake City residents are Mormons, and even fewer than that actually follow the "Mormon health code". It is more likely that the active, outdoor lifestyle available to residents of SLC is responsible. Consider: what "health code" is responsible for the ranking of the other 24 cities in this report? Whatever it is about those cities that contributes to better health are also the factors that contribute to health in SLC!

Religions need some serious humility and stop taking credit for good things and distancing themselves from the bad things they and their members do. It is a bias that is not truthful.

1978
Salt Lake City, UT

I know of others who also need a serious dose of humility.

For a so-called Scientist you don't understand math very well. 50% or even 30% of a group within a population does have a significant affect on the average value for the total population.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

Whether a person believes the Word of Wisdom of the LDS Church was a revelation from God or not, every person on this planet would benefit greatly if they observed it! But in 1832, not even scientists knew that did they?
Such is the case with every teaching of the Church from fasting once a month to dedicated service, every person's life, every community and ever nation would be blessed.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

The Word of Wisdom> Obamacare

johnpack
Parker, CO

The real question is, "What factors made San Jose #1?" I've lived in both Salt Lake and San Jose. I'm curious as to the difference (and, yes, there are a lot of Mormons in San Jose too).

A Scientist
Provo, UT

And I know of some who need not only a serious dose of humility, but an education, too.

This is not about math. Whether 50% or 30% of the SLC population is LDS is irrelevant. You still cannot claim that the Mormon Health Code is the "cause" of the good health in SLC unless:

1. You can establish that those LDS members actually follow that code;
2. That code is known to produce improved health, and specifically the improvements in health measured by this study;
3. You can control for the variation in health that is attributable to all the other covariates I referred to (the variables that appear to also contribute to good health in all the other 24 cities);
4. And ultimately, you can CONTROL those variables to demonstrate causality.

Without such rigor, claiming that the "Mormon Health Code" is responsible for SLC being in the top 25 is completely speculative and reeks of taking undue credit.

Any questions?

1978
Salt Lake City, UT

"And I know of some who need not only a serious dose of humility, but an education, too."

I agree. So why don't you take this opportunity to educate yourself?

The "Mormon Health Code" that was given credit for low cancer rates in the general population and higher survival rates for those who have it was from a well respected PHD who received her degree from Baylor - not BYU.

The two authors of the study are from Maine and California and neither of them are LDS.

Just because this article with corresponding comments and conclusions from REAL experts contradict your own personal bias does not make it invalid.

Texan Engineer
Plano, TX

Dear Scientist,

Scientific studies already exist in the literature to address some of your questions:

1) A study of California Mormons published by non-Mormon researchers reported "several healthy characteristics of the Mormon lifestyle are associated with substantially reduced death rates and increased life expectancy." They found death rates among religiously active Mormons were "largely explained" by four traits encouraged by the Mormon religion: married, never smoked, attend church weekly, and 12 years of education. (see "Lifestyle and Reduced Mortality among Active California Mormons, 1980-2004" on-line at Scientific Integrity Institute)

2) Another study showed cancer rates for lung, larynx, pharynx, oral cavity, esophagus, bladder, cervix, stomach, colon, rectum, and pancreas were 33% to 50% lower among Mormons than among non-Mormons in Utah. (see "Cancer Incidence in Mormons and non-Mormons in Utah during 1967-75" on-line at PubMed)

Of course, causality is a much trickier question than correlation, but - even if one believes that the Mormons just got lucky by having positive health practices encouraged by the religion - the authors of the UCLA study suggest that non-Mormons who are married, don't smoke, attend church regularly, and pursue education can achieve similar results.

Texan Engineer

A Scientist
Provo, UT

"...the UCLA study suggest that non-Mormons who are married, don't smoke, attend church regularly, and pursue education can achieve similar results."

And how is that "The Mormon Health Code"?

I rest my case, despite the completely impotent rebuttals.

Texan Engineer
Plano, TX

Scientist,

The UCLA study said religiously active Mormons "had among the longest life expectancies yet reported in a well-defined U.S. cohort," living 6-10 years beyond the American average. If you're willing to admit that behaviors practiced by religiously active Mormons result in significantly higher longevity, then it logically follows that having lots of them in a population sample will improve longevity compared with the American baseline. Of course, you don't have to be Mormon to benefit from behaviors advocated by Mormons, you just have to be more willing than the average American to practice those behaviors.

SLC placed second in the Prevention article because of "low cancer rates." The second study I cited above shows that Mormons in Utah had significantly lower cancer rates than non-Mormons in Utah. Thus, it's a very logical conclusion for the Prevention article to tie SLC's cancer outcome to the "predominant religion." That conclusion is not harmed by the idea that non-Mormons could also benefit from practicing behaviors advocated by Mormons, and the UCLA study provides some specific answers to your original question about what behaviors could be generally helpful (regardless of who practices them).

Texan Engineer

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