Health officials have released a report showing there has been little improvement in Mississippi's overall public health.

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Public Health Report Card Shows Mississippi is Still Failing

By Daniel Cherry | Published 19 Jan 2012 06:46pm | comments

From obesity, to heart disease, to teen pregnancy Mississippi still comes up short in public health. MPB's Daniel Cherry examines how a new report card shows the state hasn't made much progress in the past year.

Mississippi is still at or near the top in high blood pressure, infant mortality, tobacco use, and obesity. At the state Capitol yesterday, the state Department of Health and the Mississippi State Medical Association released their annual report card. Dr. Tom Joiner heads up the medical association and he says if the results sound familiar...they should.

"We're talking to those people that are overweight and that smoke. Until we get that message to them, to change their lifestyle and they actually do it, we haven't gotten very far."

These are problems health officials say cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The report card will be presented to legislators soon, and although the state can't legislate good health, it can offer incentives for healthy behavior. State Health Officer, Dr. Mary Currier says it begins with a change in lifestyle.

"It's not that hard if you do a little something every day, especially regarding obesity. I know it's very hard to lose weight, but just doing something little every day like turning down a dessert or walking a little farther from your car does help."

In the past decade the rate of teen smoking has dropped about ten percent. Steve Holland, longtime House Public Health Committee Chairman, says there needs to be a similar education program for overall health taught in schools.

"That is our marketplace for our future, our children. So we have to start early teaching them that their body is worth saving and preventing health problems by exercise by eating right."

Holland says spending a little money on prevention will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment costs down the road.

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