Before anyone attempts to retroactively credit the incoming gubernatorial administration for taking Louisiana off of the bottom of the 2007 America’s Health ranking, please note the date. Then consider this: Louisiana first dropped to last in the nation back when Bobby Jindal was Director of Louisiana Health and Hospitals. Although we’ve only moved up one place, it is still significant that we’re no longer on the bottom of the list. From the press release (bold mine):

According to the report, the prevalence of obesity in Louisiana has dropped by 12 percent over the past year. While many states showed increases in their obesity rates, Louisiana was the only state to see a decline over three percent.

Part of that decline we can attribute to some of our statewide health programs that have been very successful,” said Rudy Macklin, Director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. “Programs like Lighten Up Louisiana, the Governor’s Games and the Elementary Fitness Meet promote and get people involved in physical fitness and nutrition. With each year they become more popular, and I think that success is evidenced by our state’s obesity rate declining, while the country as a whole is seeing the opposite trend.”

Two additional factors that contributed to Louisiana’s improved ranking include the state’s continued accessibility to prenatal care and a significant increase in high school graduation rates.

Some improvement in access to prenatal care can be attributed to a program that expands coverage to unborn children through the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP). This provides coverage for expectant mothers who are not eligible for the LaMOMS program where nearly 1,000 additional expectant mothers are enrolled. Louisiana maintained it’s ranking of 6 in this area from 2006 to 2007.

Louisiana had the biggest improvement of any state in the percentage of high school students who graduate within four years, with an increase from 64.1 percent to 69.4 percent. The state’s ranking in this category improved from 44 in 2006 to currently 39 in the country.

Very interesting about our high school graduation rate. Once again, note the date.

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