We understand the health risks we face. Now, as a community, we can address them

Tuesday , April 11, 2017 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

The Weber Morgan Health Department released a community health assessment in 2016.

The last assessment dated from the 1990s.

The early 1990s.

After two decades, the community understands the health risks it now faces. And more important, it has a plan to address those risks.

  • RELATED: “Suicide, obesity and more named priorities for Weber-Morgan health improvement”

The health department worked with 33 community partners to develop its Community Health Improvement Plan for 2016-20. It focuses on three initiatives:

1) Reducing the suicide rate in Weber and Morgan counties by 5 percent.

2) Reducing the obesity rate by 8 percent.

3) Reducing alcohol consumption among minors by 5 percent.

Why did planners decide to emphasize those three areas of risk?

Because the local suicide rate — 26.8 per 100,000 — is more than double the national rate. But it also succeeds the Utah rate by 24 percent.

Even more frightening, the rate in downtown Ogden is 39.9 per 100,000 people.

Because local obesity rates increased by 58 percent from 1997 to 2013. A quarter of Utahns are overweight. In Weber County, it’s 27.2 percent.

And finally, because more local adolescents smoke, drink and use marijuana than in surrounding counties.

To reduce the number of suicides, the health plan calls for expanded prevention efforts in area schools and increased intervention training throughout the community.

To reduce obesity, it focuses on teaching kids to eat right and encouraging adults to exercise.

To reduce underage drinking, it calls for more alcohol compliance checks by local police.

Understand something — the plan describes how the health department intends to address suicide, obesity and underage drinking between now and 2020. But the document includes a wealth of resources; you can use it to tailor a plan to your individual needs.

We cannot become a healthier community unless you commit to better health, too.

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