Delaware slips in national health rankings

An increase in the obesity rate is one reason Delaware's health ranking has slipped. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

An increase in the obesity rate is one reason Delaware's health ranking has slipped. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Delaware dropped four spots in the 25th annual America’s Health Rankings compiled by the UnitedHealth Foundation.

Delaware comes in 35th in the ranking of the healthiest states in the country. Last year, the foundation ranked Delaware 31st. 

The biggest negative influences on the state’s rank include the obesity rate which is up from 26.9 percent to 31 percent from last year. The obesity rate also contributed to a rise in the state’s rate of diabetes which now stands at 11.1 percent from 9.6 percent last year.

Delaware has slowly improved its rank over the 25 year history of the report, but UnitedHealthcare of Delaware Medical Director Dr. Barry Fabius said that changed this year. “Many of our most troubling public health issues such as high rates of obesity, diabetes and infant death may stem from greater societal issues.”

Fabius said those issues include violent crime, drug use and relatively low rates of high school graduation. An increase in the rate of children living in poverty is also to blame. According to the report, over the past 25 years, the percentage of Delaware’s children living in poverty has dramatically increased from 8.6 percent to 22.7 percent.

There were some areas where Delaware did better over the past year. The state’s immunization coverage among adolescents increased from 68.7 percent to 72.6 percent. The number of Delaware kids aged 13-17 who received the recommended immunizations is the ninth highest in the nation.

Another positive the report cited is state spending on public health. At $105 per person, Delaware spends the 11th highest per capita in the U.S. 

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