Friday, December 11, 2009

New study shows that Pennsylvanians need to improve our health

Every year, UnitedHealthcare’s foundation teams up with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention to conduct the America’s Health Rankings survey. The 20th edition was just released and the news for Pennsylvania is mixed. Pennsylvania ranks 28th among all states in terms of the health of its citizens (the lower the number, the better the ranking in all cases), which is in the lower half of all states.

One thing I noted in the survey is that in the past ten years, the incidence of obesity among Pennsylvanians has increased by an alarming 46%. And there has been a mind-boggling 59.5% increase in obesity among our African-American population. If obesity rates in Pennsylvania continue to rise at their current levels, obesity is projected to soon cost $13.5 billion or $1,455+ per adult, for state health care spending.

Here are some other areas in which Pennsylvania lags behind other states:
· High incidence of infectious disease – 40th/19.6 cases per 100,000 pop.
· High levels of air pollution – 47th/13.9 micrograms per cubic meter
· Low per capita public health funding – 41st/$49 per person

The study shows that Pennsylvania does have some strengths compared to other states when it comes to the health and wellness of our citizens:
· Low rate of uninsured population – 7th/9.7%
· High rate of high school graduation – 7th/83.5%
· Low geographic disparity within state – 8th/7.9 relative standard deviation

America’s Health Ranking” is the longest running report of its kind. For 20 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socio-economic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars.

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