The 10 Unhealthiest States in America
There are certain things you can do to take control of your health: eat right, exercise, quit smoking (or better yet, don't start). Getting health insurance helps, too. But according to experts, living a healthy lifestyle can be harder in some parts of the country than others. Could your location be sabotaging your health? Here, a look at the 10 sickest states in America.
Location, Location, Location
The list is based on data compiled by the American Public Health Association and the United Health Foundation, which rank U.S. states on their per-capita rates of obesity, child poverty, smoking, cancer-related deaths, cardiovascular disease, and other risk factors. Read on to see how your state ranks.
. Along with having among the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, smoking, and obesity in America, the Magnolia State unfortunately touts the nation's largest percentage (25 percent) of youths living in poverty. All of these factors combined to put Mississippi at our number-one spot.
. This state can boast relatively easy access to prenatal care and few residents taking mental-health days off from work. Even so, the prevalence of obesity and children living in poverty, along with a staggering number of cancer deaths, make this Southern state one of the sickest.
. In addition to trailing only Mississippi in child poverty rates, Arkansas earns its spot in the top three by having one of the lowest per-capita public health spending rates (less than $65 a person). A positive step for Arkansas: Obesity has actually declined there in the past year, while the rest of the country has seen an increase.
. For more than 20 years, "Oklahoma Is OK" graced the Sooner State's license plates, but if you're looking to live a healthy lifestyle, you may not want to dig in your heels and stay. While its strengths include only moderate incidences of infectious diseases and a respectable high-school graduation rate, nearly a quarter of Oklahomans smoke, and less than 75 percent of children between 19 and 35 months receive all necessary immunizations.
. More than half a million tourists flock to Memphis each year to glimpse Elvis's famed Graceland estate. But a high rate of violent crime (more than 700 offenses per 100,000 residents) and infant mortality may put Tennessee in a category of states where only fools would rush to settle in.
. Although Alabama's violent crime and poverty rates have both decreased in recent years, this state still has one of the highest rates of cardiovascular-related deaths in the country (nearly 400 per 100,000 residents). In addition, almost a third of Alabamans are obese, and only 65 percent of the state's ninth graders graduate high school.
. Given that it's the fourth poorest state in the nation with the lowest median income, it's not surprising that the percentage of uninsured residents in West Virginia is staggeringly high. Despite its low rates of violent crime and infectious disease, the state's alarming obesity, sick-day, and smoking rates solidify its spot in the top 10.
. Due largely to the abundance of fatty foods, a lack of exercise, and smoking, residents of this Southern state are fighting an uphill battle against obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular-related deaths. In fact, Kentucky ranks in the top 10 highest per-capita rates for all of these factors.
. This state's slogan, "Smiling faces, beautiful places," conjures images of serene beaches and parks. But South Carolina also faces many challenges, including a high rate of violent crime (766 incidents per 100,000 people) and a low high-school graduation rate (barely 60 percent). Although there have been decreases in child poverty, cardiovascular deaths, the number of uninsured, and infant mortality, these recent advances weren't enough to bump this state off of the top-10 list.
. The Sunshine State doesn't shine too brightly in the health category. With the highest rate of infectious diseases in the country (41 cases per 100,000 people) and an uninsured rate of more than 21 percent (five percentage points above the national average), you may just want to consider saving Florida as a vacation spot--and not a place to live.
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