September 1, 2014

Kansans’ health ranks right in the middle

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Kansans are slightly healthier this year than last, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2012 America’s Health Rankings.
In 2011, Kansas ranked 25th when its health was compared to that of other states. In 2012, the state moved up one spot to 24.
According to the annual report, Americans in general are living longer due to medical advances, but unhealthy behavior and preventable illness threaten quality of life in America.
While premature, cardiovascular and cancer deaths have declined since 1990 by 18.0 percent, 34.6 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively, Americans are experiencing troubling levels of obesity (27.8 percent of the adult population), diabetes (9.5 percent of the adult population), high blood pressure (30.8 percent of the adult population) and sedentary behavior (26.2 percent of the adult population).
Dr. Tony Sun, medical director of UnitedHealthcare of Kansas said the health rankings help Americans understand health trends facing the nation and here in Kansas.
“By identifying the key opportunities we face as a state, we can pursue innovative solutions to those opportunities,” he said.
Kansas’ health strengths, according to the study, include a low prevalence of binge drinking, a low prevalence of low birthweight babies and a high rate of high school graduation. Kansas’ health challenges include low per capita public health funding, limited-availability of primary care physicians and a high occupational fatalities rate.
“While we celebrate the improvements our state has made in a variety of areas, we still have a long way to go to reverse the direction of many health trends,” said Dr. Sun. “The good news is that there are programs and initiatives underway in Kansas that promote collaboration among all stakeholders to address health challenges and get our state’s health back on track.”
The study found there are more than 630,000 obese adults in Kansas and more than 200,000 Kansas adults with diabetes.
This year’s rankings show that, although Kansas has one of the lowest amounts of public health funding in the U.S., it has increased from $37 to $45 per person over the past five years.
For the sixth year in a row, Vermont remains the nation’s healthiest state followed by Hawaii. Mississippi and Louisiana tied for least healthy.

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