Wis., Minn., Iowa fall in American Health Rankings

Wis. and Minn. fall three spots, Iowa falls seven

The United Health Foundation’s annual health rankings have been released.

The study is in its 25th year and is the longest running state-by-state analysis of our country’s health.

Since 1990, the American Health Rankings study has seen a decline in smoking and a significant increase in obesity. The number of people dying from cancer has slowly been dropping.

In 2014, Wisconsin fell three spots to 23, Minnesota fell three spots to 6 and Iowa fell seven places in the overall rankings to 24.

Epidemiologist at Gundersen Health System Brenda Rooney says it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why each state fell, but there are a few areas that stand out.

“The report highlighted infectious diseases as one of the primary areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa mostly due to pertussis, which is whooping cough,” Rooney said.

For every 100,000 people there were 120 1/2 cases of whooping cough reported in Wisconsin, 77 1/2 Minnesota and 56.7 in Iowa, ranking them 50, 48 and 46 in the U.S. in 2014.

Rooney said one reason why the three states rank so low in that category could be due to good health care.

“If you’re going to look for it you’re going to find it and I know that typically Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa we have a pretty good system for reporting diseases,” she said.

Another area were these states rank toward the bottom is binge drinking.

“The Upper Midwest — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota — we’re typically always at the bottom of the heap for binge drinking,” Rooney said.

Binge drinking rankings:

Minnesota – 46
Iowa – 47
Wisconsin – 49

A health concern the whole country is facing is the obesity rate. Wisconsin and Minnesota have improved their rankings since 2013, but Iowa still sits towards the bottom.

Obesity rate ranking:

Minnesota – 10
Wisconsin – 29
Iowa – 39

There are places all three states are improving.

Smoking rates are down 3 percent across the country and each state is seeing the same trend.

Smoking rates ranking:

Minnesota – 19
Wisconsin – 22
Iowa – 28

And one of the most important stats for the future, according to Rooney, is the high school graduation rates — an area where all three states rank in the top 10.

Graduation ranking:

Wisconsin – 3
Iowa – 5
Minnesota – 7

“You say, ‘Oh that’s in a health report? What does that have to do with health?’ But we’re finding a lot of the behaviors that this report and other typical reports measures, like tobacco use, obesity, physical inactivity are very related to education,” Rooney said.

Click here for a link to the full report.