Solutions for Missouri's Low Health Outcomes

According to the American Public Health Association the state of Missouri ranks 38 out of the 50 states in health outcomes…only 12 states are in worse shape than us (Kansas ranks 24th). Why is this?

One of the main reasons for this very disappointing ranking is that Missouri has one of the highest smoking rates in the country (almost 25 % of Missourians smokes) and at the same time we have the very lowest tax on cigarettes of any state in the county. In addition, since 1990 the prevalence of obesity in Missouri residents increased from 11.9% to 20% today. Add these facts to the reality that Missouri funds public heath efforts at a very low level and it is not hard to see why Missouri deserves this embarrassing ranking.

One of the goals of the new health reform bill is to emphasize and focus our efforts on the prevention of illness rather than paying for illness care. In Missouri alone, Missourians pay over $3.5 to $4 Billion dollars per year in health care costs related to treat diseases related to obesity and to control problems related to smoking. We could revolutionize the healthcare system, save billions of dollars and simultaneously improve the health of our citizens by simply investing more in prevention and making better personal choices.

The Health Care Foundation is hosting a Healthy Lifestyles Pre Proposal Conference on December 15th from 8:30 am to 11:30 am at the Reardon Center in Kansas City Kansas. Listen to four speakers who will challenge us to think about successful prevention strategies used in other communities to reduce obesity and encourage good nutrition and fitness. To register to attend this important learning opportunity, please visit our HCF web site at . At the conference you will also learn about our 2011 $2.8 million Healthy Lifestyles Funding application process. Hope to see you there.


Thanks for the blog. One of the main problems with preventative health care in the urban core here in Kansas City is the concept of “Food Desert”. Until the 3rd District decides to be serious about the oppressed population we are going to continue to see increases in healthcare costs of the uninsured because it is cheap to buy cigarettes and fast food VS fresh fruit and vegetables. In order to shop for healthy food, you have to catch 3 buses to get to Westport or Brookside if you live in the 3rd District. Convenience plays a huge role in making healthy choices (or any choice, for that matter), and when it is much easier and cheaper to purchase unhealthy food, the majority of choices made will be unhealthy. A significant piece of preventing health-related illness in the 3rd District, instead of treating it, is to make our neighborhoods safer so our kids can play outside, and to eradicate these food deserts, and make buying apples and oranges as easy as buying hot chips and candy bars.

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.