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Kansans once again trump Missourians in health rankings

Updated: 2013-12-12T02:53:35Z

By ROBERT A. CRONKLETON

The Kansas City Star

The rankings are in, and Kansans continues to outpace Missourians when it comes to overall health.

Kansas ranked 27th and Missouri was 39th on the United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings, which were released Wednesday.

The annual rankings, which assess the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, found that Americans are taking steps to improve their health, notably in key behavior measures, the United Health Foundation said in a release.

Those include smoking, which dropped nationally from 21.2 to 19.6 percent of adults. The report noted that 17 states saw significant drops in smoking, with Kansas among the five states seeing the largest decreases.

Smoking in the state dropped from 22 to 19.4 percent of adults. More than 410,000 Kansans smoke.

Kansas’ strengths, according to the rankings, include a low rate of drug deaths and a high rate of high school graduation.

Kansas’ challenges, however, included a high prevalence of obesity, low per capita public health funding and low immunization coverage among children.

“At 29.8 percent, Kansas has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation, with more than 630,000 obese adults,” the rankings noted.

There is some some good news: The number of physically inactive adults decreased from 26.8 percent to 22.9 percent. However, more than 490,000 adults are physically inactive.

Missouri’s strengths include a high rate of high school graduation, lower prevalence of low birth weight and a small disparity in health status by level of education.

Missouri’s challenges include high cardiovascular and cancer death rates, low immunization coverage among children and a high prevalence of smoking.

The number of smokers decreased from 25 to 23.9 percent in the state during the past year. However, almost 1.1 million adults in Missouri smoke.

“In the past year, the prevalence of physical inactivity decreased from 28.4 to 24.7 percent of adults; however, more than 1.1 million adults are physically inactive in the state, and more than 1.3 million adults are obese,” the report noted.

On the positive side, the rate of cardiovascular deaths has fallen in the past 10 years, and preventable hospitalizations decreased in the last five years among Medicare enrollees in Missouri.

Nationally, Hawaii is the healthiest state, displacing Vermont, which topped the rankings last year but is now second. Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to the rankings.

The least healthy states are Mississippi, which ranked 50th this year; Arkansas, 49th; Lousiana, 48th; Alabama, 47th; and West Virginia, 46th.

To see the complete rankings, go to www.americashealthrankings.org.

To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to bcronkleton@kcstar.com.

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