South Carolina is 48th in
annual state health rankings for 2006, dropping from 46th last year
South Carolina ranks 48th in state health rankings for
2006, coming in ahead of only Mississippi and Louisiana in an annual
report released earlier this month.
The report by United Health Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit
foundation funded by the health care company UnitedHealth Group, said
Americans overall are only slightly healthier (0.3 percent) than they
were a year ago.
The health status of South Carolinians did not reflect the modest
positive trends at the national level, with the Palmetto State dropping
in rank from 46th place in the 2005 report.
The annual rankings
are based on health determinants and outcomes, with determinants
representing factors such as personal behaviors, the environment people
live and work in, decisions by public and elected officials, and the
quality of medical care delivered by health care professionals.
Examples of specific
determinants include smoking, motor vehicle deaths, high school
graduation rates, children in poverty, access to care, and incidence of
Health outcomes, as
presented in the report, represent factors relevant to both quantity and
quality of life. Specific outcomes used in the report address mortality
statistics, as well as measures of mental and physical health status.
Dr. Reed Tuckson,
senior vice president of the United Health Foundation, called the report
a "call to action for all of us" to make the nation healthier.
"We can do better
and our children deserve better," he said.
which has held the top spot in 11 of the 17 years of the study, was
cited as the nation’s healthiest state. Vermont was second on the list,
followed by New Hampshire, Hawaii and Connecticut.
At the other end,
the report listed Louisiana as the least-healthy state, followed by
Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas. The southeastern
U.S. is represented by 8 of the 10 least healthy states.
Among the indicators
that contributed to South Carolina’s position were:
school graduation rate: 59.7 percent of incoming ninth graders graduate
within four years, rank 50;
violent crime rate: 761 offenses per 100,000 population, rank 50.
prevalence of obesity: 29.1 percent of population, rank 47.
infant mortality rate: 8.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, rank 46.
incidence of motor vehicle deaths: 2.2 per 100,000,000 miles driven,
On a positive note,
the report said the state has a high per capita health spending at $219
per person and moderate access to adequate prenatal care with 70.5
percent of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care.
Dean Donna Richter
of USC’s Arnold School of Public Health echoed the positive sentiment in
highlighting the fact that South Carolina does have a
strong and centralized public health system. “Strides are being made in
important areas such as teen pregnancy prevention, an area not
highlighted by the report,” said Richter.
HARD WORK AHEAD
continuing to improve the health of South Carolinians will require hard
and ongoing work across state agencies, state government, the private
sector and academia. It will also require further engagement with key
community partners at the local level,” added Richter.
“We must also
challenge ourselves to examine the overall social context in which our
citizens live, paying particular attention to issues of social injustice
that keep many of our fellow South Carolinians from achieving and
maintaining good health,” Richter concluded.
level of improvement in health as measured by the report has been nearly
flat since 2000, averaging only 0.3 percent a year, compared to an
average increase of 1.5 percent a year from 1990 to 2000.
The United Health
Foundation said factors contributing to the slowed growth include
tobacco use, infant mortality, and increasing obesity. The report also
found that the percentage of uninsured Americans has increased from 13.4
percent in 1990 to 15.9 percent today.
The report also
notes that the potential for optimal healthiness in the United States
has not yet been achieved. Compared with other nations, the United
States lags behind in several important indicators of overall health.
For example, a baby girl born today in the United States can expect to
live 71 healthy, active years; while a baby girl born today in Japan can
expect to live 78 healthy, active years.
MOVEMENT IN RANKINGS
state-by-state analysis shows Illinois with the highest overall health
improvement since last year (a 2.8 percent increase). Next are Ohio,
with a 2.6 percent jump; Wisconsin, with a 2.3 percent increase; and
Kansas, with a 2.1 percent rise. States with the greatest decline in
overall health include New Mexico, which dropped 4.2 percent; Idaho,
which declined by 3.9 percent; and West Virginia, which dropped 3.5
The report noted
that 35 other nations have infant survival rates that are better than or
equal to that of the United States. Our rate of 6.6 deaths per 1,000
live births is double that of Japan, Sweden, Finland, Monaco and San
Marino. Countries such as the Czech Republic, France, Germany and Spain
also have better rates of infant survival.
The report was
produced in partnership with the American Public Health Association and
Partnership for Prevention.
To view the entire
report, please visit