Mississippi should not frown at health ranking

Published 4:28 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mississippi is making headlines again, this time for having the least healthiest citizens.

According to a report released by the United Health Foundation entitled America’s Health Ranking, Mississippi moved out of 49th place, trading positions on the list with our neighbor, Louisiana, which was 50th last year.

The ranking was determined by examining more than 30 aspects that determine health, including behavior, community and environment and medical care. Our state’s ranking was due in part to a lack of physical activity, high rates of infectious diseases, low adolescent immunization rates, low birth weights, number of deaths associated with cardiovascular diseases and our infant mortality rate. Other areas where the state fell short include a shortage of dentists, high cancer death rates and high rates of adult mental distress.

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There were some categories where Mississippi ranked better than most other states, including less drug-related deaths, lesser levels of excessive drinking and the small gap between heath status associated with a person’s level of education. So, while these reports should not be taken lightly, this is not the first time the Magnolia State has been ranked last in any number of surveys, studies and statistics.

The things these statistics don’t look at is how things are, slowly, getting better here in Mississippi.

Even though our diabetes rate is still one of the worst in the country, there is a drive to get people off their seats, onto walking tracks and eating healthier.

What could get that ball rolling even faster is to provide Mississippians with higher paying jobs, and more of them.

Healthy food choices in the refrigerator and regular visits to the dentist are not always on the list of things to do in homes making less than a living wage.

Mississippi has the potential to be a great state, and it’s up to all of us to work toward that goal by building upon economic development.