With the highest overall poverty rate in the country, at 28%, it's not surprising that Mississippi ranks dead last — a spot it's held for a decade — in the healthy-state race. Over the last 10 years, the child poverty rate in Mississippi doubled, from 16.4% to 33.7%. Both child and adult obesity rates are high, and 20% of the state's residents lack health insurance.
Although this factor was not included in the new report, Mississippi also has the distinction of having the highest rates of new HIV infection and the greatest percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. As Irin Carmon at Salon.com reported:
[A] Mississippian with HIV/AIDS is almost twice as likely to die than the average American with the virus; HIV-positive African-Americans in Mississippi are 10 times as likely to die from it than their white neighbors.
State strengths: low rates of binge drinking; high childhood immunization
Challenges: high rates of obesity; high childhood poverty; high infant mortality; large number of preventable hospitalizations