Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Should we be proud of #46?

From today's Tennessean...

Tennesseans are healthier than they were last year, but going from a nationwide ranking of 47th to 46th isn't much to boast about.

The rankings come from the 18th annual America's Health Rankings, which bases its findings on 20 indicators of health, including smoking, obesity and high school graduation rates.

"This is a call to action for Tennessee and the whole nation," said Dr. Archelle Georgiou, medical adviser for the United Health Foundation, the organization that compiled the report. "We need to take action to improve our health. It's time to eat better and exercise, even if it's just taking a few extra steps every day."

Tennessee performed particularly poorly in the areas of violent crime and infant mortality. The state has a high violent crime rate of 760 offenses per 100,000 residents, compared with 757 last year. Since 1990, the violent crime rate increased by 42 percent.

The infant mortality rate is 9.5 per 1,000 live births, compared with 8.8 last year, according to the report.

"We are aware this is a problem, and we are taking steps to address it," said Shelley Walker, a Tennessee Department of Health spokeswoman. "Governor (Phil) Bredesen gave us $6 million last year to design programs to curb infant mortality. We think we will see results from those efforts in the near future."

The state did shine in one area. Tennessee has the fewest binge drinkers in the country; 8.5 percent of residents binge drink, compared with 15.3 percent of all Americans.

For men, binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks at one sitting in the past 30 days and, for women, four or more drinks in one sitting in the past month.

Likewise, it's estimated that 26.7 percent of Tennesseans smoked in 2006, compared with 22.6 percent of residents in 2007. However, the state still ranks 40th in the nation for smoking prevalence.

"We aren't proud of ranking 46th, but we are encouraged that we have made improvements since last year," Walker said.