Wisconsin again ranked 23rd in United Health Foundation report

Wisconsin has again been ranked 23rd among U.S. states by the United Health Foundation as the state continues to struggle with excessive drinking, rising obesity and low levels of public health funding.

This year’s ranking is unchanged from 2018, but Wisconsin has been trending downward for decades. The state was ranked 7th in 1990 when the America’s Health Rankings report was first created. 

Still, the latest report shows diabetes numbers and access to mental health care have improved over the past two years. And the state continues to have a low percentage of uninsured individuals, and relatively clean air compared to other states. 

Diabetes among Wisconsinites fell from 9.8 percent to 8.7 percent of adults in the past two years. The state is ranked 4th in this category, falling from 12th in 2018. Meanwhile, the number of mental health providers increased by around 12 percent in the same timeframe, though the ranking of 34th is unchanged from last year. 

Wisconsin is ranked 9th for its uninsured rate and 15th for levels of air pollution, both of which declined slightly over the year. 

Since 2012, obesity in the state has jumped from nearly 28 percent to 32 percent. The report shows obesity has been climbing steadily for nearly 30 years and is now nearly three times as prevalent as in 1990. 

The state was again ranked worst in the country for excessive drinking. Previous studies have spotlighted Wisconsin’s high levels of binge drinking, as well as alcohol-related mortality through accidents and disease. The report emphasizes that excessive alcohol consumption remains a significant public health challenge. 

For public health funding, Wisconsin is ranked 46th, as the state contributes around $55 per person. That’s slightly better than last year when it was ranked 47th for $52 per person in funding. 

Another challenge highlighted in the report was relatively low levels of immunization for adolescents. And over the past 10 years, chlamydia has increased by nearly 40 percent, from around 349 cases to 479 cases per 100,000 people. 

The report also tracks violent crime, which has decreased slightly in recent years, and infant mortality, which increased slightly but generally has declined since 1990. 

As shown in this and other reports, smoking has been decreasing in the state over the past few decades. At the national level, the report highlights falling rates of smoking as a bright spot, though it acknowledges e-cigarettes and other vaping have become “an urgent public health concern.” 

As in Wisconsin, mental health providers across the country are on the rise. And improvements to child mortality and poverty in children have also made an impact on the national level. 

In earlier reports from the United Health Foundation, Wisconsin received more favorable rankings for the health of more vulnerable populations. The state was ranked 10th this year for the health of seniors, and 19th for the health of women and children.

See this year’s report: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/UNITEDHEALTHCARE_C044_434731_AHR-Book.pdf