Nebraska fell four notches on a national ranking of states for their overall health. The report from the United Health Foundation puts Nebraska in 16th place, down from 12th a year ago.
Dr. Rhonda Randall, the organization’s chief medical officer, says Nebraska continues to make gains in several of the 23 key categories, but there are also many failings.
“There is a high prevalence of binge drinking, 18.7% of the population is reporting they do binge drink,” Dr. Randall says. “We’re also seeing a fairly high incidence of infectious diseases, you’re ranked 44th in Nebraska in infectious diseases.”
While smoking rates in Nebraska fell from 21% to 17% of adults in the last ten years, 235,000 adults still smoke in Nebraska.
The categories also include things like infant mortality rates, obesity levels and violent crime statistics. She says the report shows Nebraska has many strengths.
“Notably, low number of poor mental and physical health days per month, you ranked 6th and 7th in the nation there,” Randall says. “A high rate of high school graduation with 84% of the incoming 9th graders graduating within four years. You’re low in the percentage of children under the age of 18 who are living at or below the federal poverty level and a low rate of uninsured with about 12% of the population not having health insurance.”
For both the state and nation, she says the past decade has seen a leveling off or declines overall in the rankings.
“What we’re seeing nationally is that the health of our nation has stagnated and we’re not making progress,” Randall says. “We’re seeing improvements in some areas but they’re being offset in declines in others.”
She says 2011 is the first year when no state had an obesity rate under 20%. In the past ten years, obesity rates in Nebraska increased from 21% to 27% of adults, with 376,000 obese adults in the state.
Also in the past decade, diabetes cases increased from 5% to 7.7% of adults. Now 105,000 Nebraska adults have diabetes. The violent crime rate decreased in the last ten years in the state, from 430 to 280 offenses per 100,000 population.
Learn more at: www.AmericasHealthRankings.org