For the twenty-first year in a row, Louisiana scored in the bottom five on "America's Health Rankings," an annual report by United Health. The state clocked in at #49 this time, with Arkansas at #47 and Texas at #44. Many factors play into those rankings, but the one Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas all have in common is a big percentage of people without health insurance.
United Health collected data from the Census Bureau and CDC, among other federal agencies. Key factors it considered include poverty rate among children, high school dropout rates, and smoking and obesity rates. Louisiana has battled all of these problems in the past, but saw a slight decrease in the number of smokers this year. It continues to lead the nation in high school dropout rates.
Health experts say it can all be improved, but it will take time. "We didn't get here overnight and we won't get out of it overnight," said Jesse DeMello of LSU-Shreveport. "It's a consistent change across a generation and then we'll see the affect of that change with the next generation."