Iowa fell two notches on this year’s national rankings of states for their overall health. The report from the United Health Foundation puts Iowa in 17th place, down from 15th last year. Dr. Rhonda Randall, the organization’s chief medical officer, says Iowa continues to make gains in several of the 23 key categories, but there are also many failings.
“Some of the challenges that we see there are a limited availability of primary care physicians,” Dr. Randall says. “We see a high prevalence of binge drinking and we see a high incidence of infectious diseases, but that is also offset by some of the strengths that Iowa sees.”
While smoking rates in Iowa have decreased from 23% to 16% of adults in the past ten years, 373,000 Iowans still smoke. The categories also include things like infant mortality rates, obesity levels and violent crime statistics. She says the report shows Iowa has many strengths.
“You are 3rd in the nation in high school graduation rates, of the incoming 9th graders graduating within four years,” Randall says. “A low rate of the uninsured, you’re ranked 10th there, and a low percentage of children living in poverty.” 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 Iowa, there are 675,000 obese adults in Iowa, which is 200,000 more people than ten years ago. Also, in the past ten years, diabetes cases have increased from 6.1% to 7.5% of the adult population.
Now, 174,000 Iowa adults have diabetes. Learn more at: “www.AmericasHealthRankings.org”.