Monday, February 23, 2009

Arkansas 2009 Wellness Initiatives Still In Place!

Ever since Governor Huckabee created the Healthy Arkansas Worksite Wellness site, Arkansas had been viewed as a state leader in comprehensive wellness programs. Unfortunately, even with the Governor's push to incentivize a health lifestyle, the most current data shows that there is still a lot of work to be done.  Arkansas' health ranking this year was number 43 out of 50 states.  The latest statistics show:
  • 8.7% of the population had diabetes
  • 22% were smokers (higher than the national average)
  • 63.8% were overweight or obese
  • 29 % with a BMI over 30 (higher than the national average)
However, the news is not all bad.  Overall, the state has improved on the following:
  1. Although the Health Ranking for Arkansas is 43rd this year, it was 48th in 2007!
  2. Smoking has decreased from 23.7% to 22%.
  3. Infectious diseases decreased from 37 to 16 cases per 100,000.
  4. In the past five years, the percentage of children in poverty declined from 28.3% to 19.1%.

Arkansas is currently using The Healthy Arkansas website to provide strategies to reduce the three primary behavior-related causes of disease which are smoking, physical activity and nutrition. Hometown Health Improvement is another website developed to empower local communities to take ownership of health problems and identify and implement solutions that improve the health of their citizens.

The Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness is still funded by an assortment of private and public monies and has been giving out awards to encourage health and wellness for all individuals in Arkansas since its establishment in 1992 by Bill Clinton.  The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) also has links to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services with programs such as the easy to understand "Quick Guide to Healthy Living."  At a time where states funds are in jeapordy, it looks like Arkansas is holding its own to improve the health and wellness of its citizens.

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