Top 10 unhealthiest statesNews added by Benefits Pro on January 3, 2014

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By Kathryn Mayer

The United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings finds Americans have made great strides in health care measures. But the report also finds there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Obesity has leveled off; however, researchers say it must remain a top priority, as 27.6 percent of adults nationwide report being obese. With rates of physical inactivity, smoking and diabetes at 22.9 percent, 19.6 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, there’s still considerable room for improvement in key health measures.

We've already ranked the top 10 healthiest states in the United States. Now, here are the top 10 unhealthiest states.

41. Indiana

The Hoosier State has a host of bad statistics to its name: It has one of the highest prevalences of smoking in the nation, with more than 1.1 million adults still smoking. More than a half million adults in Indiana have diabetes, and more than 1.5 million adults are obese.

42. Tennessee

One of Tennessee’s major issues is that one in four children living in the state are living in poverty.

Additionally, the state suffers from a high prevalence of smoking and a high violent crime rate.

43. South Carolina

South Carolina has one of the highest rates of diabetes at 11.6 percent of the adult population: More than 400,000 adults have diabetes and more than 1.1 million adults are obese in the state.

Also causing the state to struggle is its low high school graduation rate, high incidence of salmonella and chlamydia infections and low immunization coverage among adolescents.

44. Oklahoma

A high obesity rate (32.2 percent of adults), a high rate of drug deaths and a limited availability of primary care physicians all contribute to the Sooner State’s unhealthy status.

Additionally, the amount of public funding available for health care has dropped 40 percent (from $113 to $80 per person) in the past two years.

45. Kentucky

Kentucky has the highest rate of smoking among the 50 states: more than 28 percent of the adult population smokes. Its obesity rate also has inched up in the past year, from 30.4 percent to 31.3 percent of adults. Also in the past year, immunization coverage among children fell from 77.6 percent to 68.2 percent of children aged 19 to 35 months.

Kentucky also struggles with a high rate of preventable hospitalizations and a high rate of cancer deaths.

46. West Virginia

West Virginia has the second highest rate of smoking in the nation: 28.2 percent of adults smoke. Obesity rates in the state have increased over last year and now sits at 33.8 percent. The state has the second highest rate of physical inactivity at 31 percent of the adult population. Its diabetes rate is also one of the worst in the nation.

47. Alabama

High obesity and smoking rates plague the Yellowhammer State. Almost 1.2 million adults in Alabama are obese and more than 430,000 adults have diabetes. In the past year, physical inactivity decreased from 32.6 percent to 27.2 percent of adults.

Another challenge for the state is a limited availability of dentists.

48. Louisiana

According to the United Health Foundation, Louisiana ranks dead last on the obesity front, so it’s not surprising the Pelican State is among the unhealthiest in the nation. Obesity affects 34.7 percent of its adult population, with more than 1.2 million obese adults in Louisiana. Moreover, more than 1 million adults are physically inactive.

Additionally, violent crime, smoking and children living in poverty rates are all high.

49. Arkansas

A quarter of Arkansas residents smoke, one of the highest rates in the nation. The state also ranks 48th among the fattest states, 760,000 adults are obese, and more than 690,000 adults are physically inactive. Subsequently, there are almost a quarter-million adults with diabetes in Arkansas.

50. Mississippi

Prevalences of obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes remain among the highest in the nation in Mississippi. Almost 690,000 adults are physically inactive, more than 770,000 adults are obese, and almost 280,000 adults have diabetes in the state. Mississippi also has the highest rate of infectious diseases like chlamydia and salmonella.

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