Iowa Slips In Healthy State Ranking - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Iowa Slips In Healthy State Ranking

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By Lisa Martone

LMartone@myabc5.com

DES MOINES -- There has been a huge push this year by the governor and organizations around Iowa to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016. Yet, new numbers are showing the direction we're going in is not the right one.

A new report released by the United Health Foundation shows Iowa is slipping in their ranking. In 2011, we were the 16th healthiest state in the country. For 2012, we dropped to 20th.

"This study should be a wake-up call as to why the Governor wants us to focus on being the healthiest state in the country," said Tim Albrecht of Governor Branstad's Office.

What it showed was, while obesity rates have leveled off, Iowa's binge drinking rate was one of the worst. In fact, only one state came in higher than Iowa in that category. Also infectious disease numbers went up and the lack of primary care physicians was high.

"What I see these rankings doing is really helping us to focus where we need do make more improvements and were we need to notify the public," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.

There may be a lag with some of the data, meaning it could have been collected as long as two years ago. However, the Governor's office says despite the slip, the state is still on the right track. But this should serve as a warning that there is still work to be done.

"It is not only about health, it is an economic initiatives, because companies look at these kinds of studies and say 'We want a healthier work force because not only are they going to be more productive, it is going to bring down our health care costs,'" said Albrecht.

On a more positive note from the study: the number of teenage pregnancies has dropped in Iowa, while the graduation rate has increased. Also good news, the number of diabetes cases has dropped.

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