State falls to last in health report standings

By J. Anfenson-Comeau

Louisiana dropped below Mississippi to rank as the least-healthy state in the country in the United Health Foundation’s annual report, issued Wednesday.

Improvements in Mississippi allowed it to move to 48th healthiest state, as compared to the study released in 2007, leaving Louisiana, formerly the 49th healthiest state at the bottom, as reported in the “America’s Health Rankings 2008” report.

Most Southern states received poor marks, including South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Georgia.

Vermont was ranked the healthiest state in the country.

The study looks at a diverse array of factors, including personal behaviors, crime and education, prevalence of health insurance and mortality figures.

Louisiana received poor marks for prevalence of smoking and obesity, prevalence of violent crime and low high school graduation rates.

Obesity in particular, has blossomed in Louisiana in recent years, increasing to 30.7 percent of the population and dropping the state’s ranking to 47th in the country.

In addition, the state’s figures for children in poverty and individuals with no health insurance were ranked some of the lowest in the nation, at 22.7 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively.

Figures for infant mortality, cardiovascular deaths and cancer deaths were also some of the lowest in the country.

On the plus side, the prevalence of binge drinking, public health funding and number of primary care physicians all improved, and rank above national averages.

Louisiana also ranked eighth in the nation for lowest number of poor mental health days claimed.

Overall health in America remained static for a fourth year, according to the report, with the United States trailing many other industrialized nations in infant mortality, life expectancy, mortality for treatable conditions and overall health care system performance, despite spending significantly more on health care.

View the report at:

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