Texas is used to being at or near the top of many national lists, but there's one where the Lone Star State has some work to do. In the 2013 America's Health Rankings from United Healthcare, Texas ranks 36th among the states, down from 35th a year ago. There were a few areas in particular where our state fared poorly. "The number of diabetics that we're seeing, the numbers of people being physically active, reducing the amount of smoking...Texas still lags in those categories," says Kim Whitaker with United Healthcare. "We've got to continue to work hard to improve those numbers."
In particular, the study showed Texans still have a higher rate of physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes than the national average. Texas was also rated down because of its high rate of people without health insurance and a 12% decline in the past year in children's immunizations. However, there were some positives for the state. "Low rates of cancer deaths, low rates of drug deaths, and actually Texas has been making improvements year-over-year in things like obesity and smoking," says Whitaker. She tells KTRH that the results show a continued need for programs that promote exercise, improved healthcare and healthy living. "It's important in the cities in their public health efforts, to encourage people to use parks, to use public transportation, to try to walk more," says Whitaker.
Some states might quibble with the America's Health Rankings findings, but Whitaker explains the list is not meant to be a negative attack on states. "It's a tool really to help encourage them to be more accountable for their health, and to take a little bit more interest in their health," she says. "We're doing a lot of things right (in Texas) and if we continue to do those things, we're only going to continue to improve...that's the good news in this report." Hawaii ranked as the healthiest state on the list, while last year's number one Vermont dropped to number two this year. Mississippi was the least healthy state on the list.