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 www.healthcare4kc.org . At the conference you will also learn about our 2011 $2.8 million Healthy Lifestyles Funding application process. Hope to see you there.