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S.C. health ranking declines in 2012

Staff Report
Published Dec. 11, 2012

South Carolina’s overall health ranking among U.S. states slid one spot to No. 46 this year. And the state had the second-worst ranking for diabetes in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation.

Study highlights for S.C.

  • South Carolina has one of the highest rates of diabetes at 12.1% of the adult population, with 435,000 adults with diabetes.
  • In the past year, the high school graduation rate increased to 66% from 62.2% of incoming ninth graders who graduated within four years.
  • In the past five years, the percentage of children in poverty increased to 26.3% from 15.6% of persons under age 18.
  • In the past 10 years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations decreased to 61.2 discharges from 78.6 per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.
  • South Carolina ranks below the median state on all measures except two — binge drinking and preventable hospitalizations.
The foundation released its 22nd annual America’s Health Rankings report on Tuesday, which tracks the health of the nation.

While the nation is adept at treating illness and disease, the study suggests Americans are struggling to change unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and obesity.

The report also confirms the findings of many other studies — that obesity is a huge and growing burden on the health of South Carolinians. The study charted the percentage of adult South Carolinians who are obese in the years since 1990, when the figure was about 15%. Today, that figure has soared to more than 30%.

And obesity contributes to the state’s worst health indicator, the incidence of diabetes. In the latest study, 12.1% of adults surveyed said they had been told by their doctor that they had diabetes.

Across the U.S., Vermont was ranked as the nation’s healthiest state for the sixth consecutive year. Hawaii is ranked second, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Mississippi and Louisiana tied as the least healthy states in the U.S., followed by Arkansas, No. 48; West Virginia, No. 47; and South Carolina.

New Jersey, Maryland, Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Rhode Island showed the most substantial improvement in the rankings, according to the report.