- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) - An annual survey of U.S. health rankings puts Indiana at 41st in the nation for the third straight year, despite noting some progress the state has made in improving its citizens’ health.

United Health Foundation’s report and rankings released last week indicate that while Indiana was strong with regards to immunizations, infectious diseases and binge drinking, it still has work to do in physical activity, obesity, air pollution and other health-measurement categories.

State health commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said it will take a coalition of state and local officials and Hoosier themselves to make progress on some of Indiana’s greatest health challenges.

“The first step is awareness. No. 41 is not where we want to be, but acknowledging it and figuring out what we need to do to move forward is the only way to climb the ladder and get to my goal of being No. 1,” he told The Times of Munster (http://bit.ly/1wCK8Fc ).

Adams credits Indiana’s (800) QUIT-NOW tobacco hotline with reducing the number of Hoosiers who smoke.

The new report said Indiana reduced its smoking rate to 21 percent from 25 percent over the past two years, and its childhood poverty rate fell from 24 percent in the past year to 14 percent.

Adams said Indiana has been successful in immunizations because of a 2010 state law that required certain vaccinations for 6- to 12-year-olds and cut the state’s rate of infectious diseases.

Among the state’s challenges highlighted in the report, Indiana ranked 48th in air pollution, 47th in public health funding and 43rd in physical inactivity.

Health officials note that many of the factors on which the ratings are based, such as obesity, physical activity and smoking, come down to personal lifestyle choices.

Dr. Guy Shrake, medical director for the United Health Foundation of Indiana, said the annual report helps “everyone be aware of the importance of living healthier lives.”

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Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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