Arkansas ranks third unhealthiest state

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The America's Health Rankings are based health factors state-to-state. While Arkansas has made some improvements since last year, including a decrease in tobacco use, it's dropped in the overall rankings from forty to forty-eight.

"It does not surprise me that we rank low in this," says AHEC Assistant Professor of Medicine Doctor Shane Speights. He says Arkansas is dealing with several challenges involving the health of Arkansans.

"Increased rates of heart-related death, and cancer-related death, as well as poverty level, especially involving children," says Speights.

The research showed obesity affecting nearly thirty percent of the population, and many of the factors are things Speights sees on a daily bases.

"I see it in the hospital, in the emergency room. This does not surprise me because this is a problem in Arkansas," he says.

Speights says many of the problems are caused by poor healthcare. "They're not going for regular check-ups, they don't think they need to. A lot of people try to ignore problems that they're having and they usually just get worst."

Arkansas also ranks the lowest out of all fifty states when it come to immunization coverage, with only eighteen percent of the population with health insurance.

"Not everybody goes to the doctor, not everybody takes their child to the doctor, not everybody recognizes the risk of their child not getting their vaccines," says Speights.

Speights says the best way to improve the health in Arkansas is for folks to recognize the importance of a yearly check-up. "Things like screening for cholesterol, a lot of these are correctable things that we can fix. This is just basic healthcare that we as Arkansans are not taking advantage off and we really need to wake up."

For more information on how the overall health ranking is broken down, just go to

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