It’s hard to be proud of the fact that Alabama is the 45th healthiest state in the nation. That’s according to the latest rankings published by the United Health Foundation. The state ranked 48th a year ago, so I guess we are making some progress, but we still rank poorly. The improved ranking is the result of substantial progress in three key areas, according to UHF’s data:
• incidence of child poverty (improved from 39th to 28th);
• occupational fatalities (32nd to 28th); and
• the percent of the population with some form of health insurance (32nd to 27th), although that ratio actually decreased from 87 percent to 84 percent.
We can’t be satisfied to be near the bottom when it comes to the health and well-being of Alabamians, because our state remains near the bottom of all state ranks in several key measures. We must do much better. For example our state is:
• 46th in terms of diabetes incidence;
• 47th in obesity;
• 48th in both infant mortality and premature death rate; and
• 49th in cardiovascular health.
More than 1.2 million people in Alabama are obese, the report says, and the prevalence of diabetes within the state has doubled over the past ten years. These issues are having a larger effect on the state’s non-Hispanic black residents. Consider that a very large percent of non-Hispanic blacks are obese and many have diabetes.
Perhaps our state leaders, both in the Executive and Legislative branches, will make improving healthcare in our state a top priority for this year. It appears we have lots to do in that area.
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