On Wednesday the annual County Health Rankings were released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. These rankings break down each state into its counties and then rank them on various factors that influence health. The 25 factors evaluated include smoking rates, obesity levels, access to doctors and dentists, and physical activity levels.
States found at the bottom of the annual America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation unsurprisingly also have some of the least healthy counties. According to the County Health Rankings, counties in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia and South Carolina have smoking rates of about 25 percent and obesity rates at 30-40 percent.
On the healthier side of things are the states that made up the top five in last year’s Health Rankings. Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota boasted fewer average days of poor physical health than the least healthy states. Counties in the healthier states also show higher rates of diet and exercise.
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Written by John Currence. Brought to you by FoodandWine.com.
Mississippi chef John Currence was once infamous for his profligate eating habits. But now he makes low-fat versions of the Southern dishes he craves that are delicious enough to serve guests at a dinner party. Here, he tells how.
When pancreatitis hits, it’s like a phantom freight train, hard and with no warning. Trust me on this. I was a 44-year-old, pork-eating, whiskey-swilling chef in Oxford, Mississippi. I thought I was indestructible, but that belief came crashing down last summer, when I spent three weeks in a hospital bed, near death, as penance for my poor lifestyle.
As much as I knew about food, it turns out I didn’t know very much about nutrition. I was a grab-and-eat survivalist in the kitchens of my three restaurants, snatching anything that was close at hand: a big piece of roast chicken skin, a slice or two of bacon.
While I was still in the hospital, I also began imagining my first meal at home. I realized I could create a welcome-home menu from several dishes I’d lightened in my head. I’d even create a nectarine-and-plum crisp using whole-wheat flour in the subtly sweet streusel topping. When I finally got to have that dinner, with my wife, Bess, and several close friends, it couldn’t have been better or more satisfying. It wasn’t my grandmother’s fried chicken, but I know my grandmother would have been happy to eat it, anyway.
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We’ve all heard about America’s obesity numbers rising, but for 2010, Mississippi claimed the title of fattest state for the fifth consecutive year. Colorado continues its streak as the leanest. Maine rose the most places in the rankings over last year, while Oregon dropped the most, according to a new analysis by CalorieLab, Inc.
Tennessee jumped from fourth place to tie last year’s second place state Alabama. Nine states have obese populations that exceed 30 percent over a three-year average, and in ten states two-thirds of the citizens were either overweight or obese by CDC standards in 2009.
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The South may not rise again, but the numbers on the scales are every day. Our entire country is having trouble with staying at a healthy weight. Obesity is on the rise everywhere… but especially in Dixie. Southern cooking is more known for fried foods and BBQ than lean meats and steamed vegetables. It’s tasty for sure, but it comes at a price.
Check out this interesting map of how weights breakdown by state. Mississippi has the dubious distinction of being number one with the heaviest citizens in the Union.