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Mississippi ranks as one of the least...

Mississippi ranks as one of the least healthy states in the nation

By: Sarah Ulmer - January 15, 2024

The Magnolia State was ranked second on the Forbes list for its short life expectancy for residents and high rate of chronic illnesses.

According to a recent report by Forbes Advisor, Mississippi is ranked as one of the least healthy states in the nation, only following West Virginia as the overall least healthy state. The report compared all 50 states with 21 key metrics.

Mississippians are reported to have the highest rate of hypertension and shortest life expectancy at 73.63 years. The report says the state also has the highest rate of deaths caused by cancer, hypertension, kidney disease and stroke.

Roughly 242 of every 100,000 Mississippians die of heart disease, per the report, and 13.7% of the state’s population have diabetes.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that chronic disease will increase in the U.S. over the next few decades. According to the report, between 2025 and 2060, officials say the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to increase by 39.9%, hypertension by 27.2% and obesity by 18.3%.

Dr. Victor Sutton, Chief of Community Health and Clinical Services, said the Mississippi State Health Department is committed to helping Mississippians live healthier lives.  

“We have programs dedicated to addressing chronic illnesses and encouraging healthy lifestyles. We offer free workshops on managing diabetes and long-term health conditions like arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure and chronic pain,” said Dr. Sutton. “We also have programs that focus on helping people make good choices for a healthy lifestyle.”

Dr. Sutton said those programs specifically help to educate communities in areas such as healthy aging, tobacco cessation, heart disease and stroke prevention.

“Our new Office of Community Health Workers helps patients navigate complex health information systems, advise, and help connect patients to the resources they need. They are an essential link between healthcare providers and patients, and ultimately help reduce health disparities in Mississippi,” said Dr. Sutton.

According to the Forbes list, West Virginia is the unhealthiest state, with Hawaii ranking as the state with the healthiest residents.

Seven of the top 10 unhealthiest states are located in the South, with West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Louisiana all ranking in those top 10 spots.

Mississippi is ranked as the worst overall state in disease risk factors and the prevalence category, while West Virginians have the worst lifestyle habits and health outlook. Vermont is the worst state for substance abuse.

When it comes to lifestyle habits and overall health outlooks, Mississippians are still second to last. With the shortest life expectancy, most adults in Mississippi report they did not exercise in the past month (31.9%)

Mississippi’s substance abuse score was the second lowest of the top 10 unhealthy states at only 40.82%. Tennessee was the highest at 88.65%. West Virginia came in second highest at nearly 80%, followed by Ohio and Louisiana.

Out of neighboring states, only Alabama had a lower substance abuse score than Mississippi at 37.66%.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: