Mississippi ranked last in annual state health report

Dec 16, 2016 | John Gregory
 High levels of smoking and poverty contributed to Mississippi being ranked 50 th in the 2016 edition of America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation, which also identified some national trends which could reverse recent gains made in other categories of health.

Being near the bottom isn’t new for the Magnolia State, as it was ranked 49 th in the 2015 report and switched places with last year’s No. 50, Louisiana. For the fifth straight year, Hawaii topped the rankings, followed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont.

The 2016 report also had a first among national trends in the 27 years the rankings have been released: the rate of cardiovascular deaths increased year-to-year from 250.8 to 251.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

The increase, along with the continuing rise in drug deaths (up 4 percent from 2015), premature deaths and the obesity rate (up 157 percent since 1990) are “eroding those hard-won gains” in other areas. Smoking among adults is down 40 percent since 1990, preventable hospitalizations declined by 13 percent from last year and the uninsured population is at an all-time low.

“We have made important strides across the country against public health challenges; however, we are at a crossroads between a healthier future as a nation and a future in which troubling public health measurements become increasingly common,” said Reed Tuckson, MD, external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation.

The reports relied on data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, Census Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. States are ranked based on a number of measures, including smoking, exercise, crime rates, public health funding, access to immunizations and cancer and heart disease rates.

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