Almost 14 percent of Utah's population some 227,000 people have no private or government-supported medical insurance (compared to a national average of 13 percent who have no insurance), yet in 1986 more than half a million Utahns had chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, respiratory problems, arthritis and diabetes.
These are some of the findings of the most comprehensive health survey ever completed in the state. "Utah's Health Status Survey: 1986," released by the Utah Department of Health, provides base line data on health insurance coverage, use of medical services, general health status and lifestyle behaviors.The survey, conducted by the University of Utah Survey Research Center, sampled about 5,000 households statewide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent on all two-choice questions. The estimated error is slightly higher for questions with more than two possible responses.
In examining the general health status of Utahns, the study found that almost 73 percent claimed excellent or very good health but only 37 percent reported regular vigorous exercise. The national average is 40 percent.
In every age group, the study found more females than males were overweight in Utah. Eleven percent of adult women and 6 percent of adult men were overweight. For those over age 44, some 18 percent of women and 9 percent of the men were overweight.
Generally, as Utahns get older they become more overweight, except for those over age 64, the study showed.
The study also looked at alcohol consumption. In 1986 more than one-third of all Utah adults, 375,000 people, were current alcohol drinkers. Nationally, 60 percent fit that category. Almost 3 percent of all adults statewide, 30,000 people, were chronic drinkers. Four times more males than females were chronic drinkers.
Almost 53,000 Utah adults reported that at least once in 1986 they drove a motor vehicle within one hour after having four or more drinks. More than 40,000 of these drinker/drivers were males; 13,000 were females. More than 3,800 adult drinker/drivers who had traffic accidents in 1986 reported they drove within one hour after having four or more drinks.
The report showed that at least 14 percent of Utahns 14 to 20 years old were current alcohol drinkers. During 1985, more than one-third of the young drinker/drivers had at least one traffic accident.
Looking at tobacco use, the survey found fewer Utah adults smoke tobacco than do people in the rest of the nation. In 1986 about 15 percent of adult Utahns were current smokers, compared to 27 percent of the same population nationwide. The percentage of people who have never smoked was much higher in Utah, 72 percent, compared to 43 percent nationally.
At least 5,600 Utahns 14 to 17 years old were reported as current smokers in 1986. The smoking rates for this age group was higher for females aged 14 to 15, and higher for males aged 16 to 17.