HEALTHIEST STATE: Iowa’s Ranking Slips

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Officials are calling it a wake-up call… a new study shows instead of becoming the healthiest state, Iowa is moving backwards.

Governor Branstad set a goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.  In 2011 Iowa was ranked 16th, but the United Health Foundation released a list Tuesday, ranking Iowa at 20th for 2012.   

The governor’s office says this is not the study they officially use when it comes to their Healthy State Initiative, but it still raises some valid points.

The Governor’s spokesperson Tim Albrecht says, “this study does show some disturbing trends among Iowans, namely we have a high rate of smoking, a very high rate of binge drinking, and there`s obesity, so there are a number of things that Iowans can do to take ownership and improve their health and improve our standing overall as a state.”

The governor’s office says this survey only proves the necessity of the governor`s Healthy State Initiative.

Albrect says it proves Iowans need to keep working towards a healthy lifestyle.  Not just for themselves, but for the state as a whole. Companies looking to locate in Iowa look for a healthy and productive workforce, as well as the added perk of lower healthcare costs.

Officials with the initiative say despite the numbers, they feel their plan is working. One of the main goals was to raise awareness about the issue, and they say they’ve accomplished that.

Helen Eddy said, “Don`t be discouraged. Positive steps are what we need, and we did not get to those rankings overnight and we`re not going to get to number one overnight, but we do know if we all pull together, the public and the private sector we can accomplish our goal.”

Eddy says after the first of the year the initiative will start focusing on helping Iowans quit smoking.

So far, there are no plans to focus specifically on binge drinking, which was one of the other issues pointed out by the survey.