State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The news within the United Health Foundation 2012 Edition of America’s Health Rankings is generally good for our state. Wisconsin ranked 16 in overall health among the 50 states. Vermont came in as the overall healthiest, while Mississippi and Louisiana tied for last.
The rankings take a variety of factors into account, including rates of obesity, infant mortality, violent crime, occupational fatalities, infectious disease, smoking, and sedentary lifestyles.
Wisconsin is at or near the top in several important categories. For example, we ranked six for health insurance coverage. Nationally, 16.0 percent of the population lacks health insurance, while in Wisconsin that number is lower at 9.9 percent.
According to the report, Wisconsin is top in the nation for four-year high school graduation rates at 90.7 percent, putting us far above the national figure of 75.5.
Unfortunately, not all of the news is good for the Badger State. Wisconsin reportedly has the highest rate of binge drinking among adults, with 24.3 percent of Wisconsinites identified as binge drinkers, meaning they drank excessively during the last 30 days.
Our neighbors also have high rates of binge drinking. Illinois, Iowa, and North Dakota are all at 23 percent or more binge drinkers. The best states in this category, Tennessee and West Virginia, had less than 11 percent of their adult population identified as bingers.
The rate of obesity in Wisconsin’s adult population is 27.7 percent, just under the national median of 27.8. Despite our likeness for beer and dairy, many states are doing worse. Louisiana and Mississippi are at the bottom, with over one-third of the populations obese. Colorado is the best state, with an obesity rate of 20.7 percent.
Disturbingly, the report found that despite North America containing only six percent of the world’s population, it contains 34 percent of its biomass due to our obesity. The report identifies obesity as one of the greatest health threats in the country, and our leading cause of preventable deaths. It is also extremely costly, with an estimated $147 billion spent on obesity-related health issues during 2008.
You may find the entire report at: www.americashealthrankings.org