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Report: State's seniors most unhealthy in the U.S.

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Seniors who live in Mississippi are the nation’s unhealthiest, according to the inaugural edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

United Health Foundation commissioned the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report to examine the health of today’s seniors and to encourage the nation, local communities and families to take action to improve senior health.

This report builds on the annual America’s Health Rankings report which, for 23 years, has offered an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings.

Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa are the top five states for seniors’ health. Mississippi ranks 50th, preceded by Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

Mississippi’s challenges include a high percentage of seniors who live in poverty and are at risk of hunger, a high rate of premature death as well as a low percentage of seniors who report very good or excellent health and a low rate of annual dental visits. Mississippi scored well for a low prevalence of chronic drinking and a high rate of flu vaccination. Mississippi’s senior population is expected to grow more than 45 percent between 2015 and 2030.

The percentage by state of seniors living at or below the poverty line ranges from a low of about 5 percent in Alaska and just over 6 percent in Utah, New Hampshire and Wyoming to a high of more than 12 percent in Louisiana and New Mexico and more than 13 percent in Mississippi.

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