Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Report Rankstate 46th in Nation in Healthiness

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Report Rankstate 46th in Nation in Healthiness

Article excerpt

Health officials said a new report ranking Oklahoma 46th in the nation in overall health shows the need for immediate action to improve those statistics.

"This report is a call to action," said Health Commissioner Leslie Beitsch. "Now more than ever, we need to support public health and prevention. We've seen our state's support for public health steadily decline this year. We simply can't continue this trend. We must confront these challenges and provide the level of support necessary to assure that Oklahomans have the same opportunities for good health as other citizens in our country. They deserve nothing less."

The UnitedHealth Foundation's annual state health rankings is a yearly analysis of the relative healthiness of the American population.

The report showed that Oklahoma's ranking has steadily declined over the last decade. The UnitedHealth Foundation report ranked Oklahoma 46th in the national survey, down from 45 in 2001 and 33rd in 1990. Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Arkansas occupy spots 47 through 50.

This is the 13th year the UnitedHealth Foundation has produced the report. The methodology determining the rankings includes such factors as prevalence of smoking, violent crime, high school graduation rates, and lack of health insurance, as well as cancer deaths, infectious disease and heart disease.

This year, a shift in three areas of methodology resulted in a significant drop in Oklahoma's overall ranking: the measure "Children in Poverty" replaced "Unemployment," the measure "Cancer Deaths" replaced "Cancer Cases," and data sources were changed to determine "Support for Public Health."

UnitedHealth utilized these new measures in its 2002 report and has restated the data for previous years' reports. Using the new methodology, Oklahoma's ranking for 2001 was changed from 41st to 45th, and in 2002 Oklahoma's overall ranking is 46th.

The report states Oklahoma has seen little improvement in the prevalence of smoking and a rise in the percentage of children in poverty. The percentage of children living in poverty nationwide has declined by 23 percent since 1990, from 20. …

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