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State improves in U.S. health ranking

Missouri’s ranking improved two points — from 40 to 38 — in this year's 28th edition of America’s Health Rankings published by the United Health Foundation.

The foundation publishes a comprehensive heath ranking of all 50 states. and at 28 years, it is the longest-running report of its kind.

According to Rhonda Randall, M.D., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare National Markets, the state's two-point jump since the last report is due to a number of factors that include a high percentage of high school graduation; high rate of primary care physicians; and low prevalence of diabetes.

The state's challenges, according to Randall, is a high violent crime rate; high cancer death rate; and low per capita public health funding

For additional reference of where Missouri stands compared to others in the Midwest, Kansas ranks 27, Nebraska ranks 15 and Iowa ranks 18.

The report finds that the United States has made notable long-term improvements across key health indicators, including:

Childhood poverty, a key indicator of socioeconomic status and overall health, decreased 19 percent nationwide in the past five years from 22.6 percent in 2013 to 18.4 percent in 2018. Yet, states are experiencing unequal progress.

The number of mental health care providers per 100,000 people increased 8 percent and primary care physicians increased 5 percent in the past year.

While Americans have made substantial health gains in key areas, the report highlights serious challenges for the country that are eroding these hard-won gains, such as:

Prevalence of obesity exceeded 30 percent of the adult population for the first time in America’s Health Rankings history, increasing 5 percent in the past year nationwide (from 29.9 percent to 31.3 percent). Obesity continues to be a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The cardiovascular disease death rate has increased 2 percent over the past three years.

Despite a decline in the national cancer death rate since 1990, more than 30 states have experienced increases or have not seen their cancer death rates improve significantly.

Suicide has increased 16 percent since 2012 (from 12.0 to 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people).

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