Kansas has an obesity problem.
That’s according to a study released Thursday by the United Health Foundation, a nonprofit arm of United Health Group.
Kansas fell a notch to 27 in the overall ranking of the healthiest U.S. states, though the foundation singled out the Sunflower State as representing a “national challenge” because of an increase in the prevalence of obesity from its 2015 report.
After being ranked as the 12th most obese state last year, Kansas dropped to seventh in 2016. The most obese state was Louisiana while Kansas neighbor Colorado was the least, according to the study.
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An estimated $190.2 billion is spent on obesity-related health issues each year, representing 21 percent of annual medical spending, according to the foundation.
For the fifth straight year, Hawaii was ranked as the healthiest state in the United States. Massachusetts finished second followed by Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont. Mississippi was the most unhealthy state in 2016 followed by Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma.
In the 27 years that the annual report on resident health status has been released, Mississippi has finished last or next to last 25 times. In 1998 and 1991, Mississippi ranked 48th.
The state rankings are based on 34 measures involving four health determinants: behaviors, community and environment, policy and clinical care. The scoring methodology was developed and reviewed by public health experts.
Nationally, the study notes long-term health improvements, like a 41 percent decline in adult smoking rates since 1990. In addition, the U.S. experienced a 35 percent decline in the rate of residents without health coverage over the last five years.
But the report also notes that, for the first time ever, the nation’s cardiovascular death rate increased from the previous year from about 251 deaths per 100,000 to nearly 252.
The full report can be found by visiting the foundation’s website at UnitedHealthFoundation.org.
Tony Pugh of McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this report.