Increase Educational Attainment
Education has a significant impact on health. In our society, the level of education a person has is correlated with their income, social standing, and several indicators of health. Education is important to achieving health literacy, a person’s ability to obtain and process health information. People who are better educated are more prepared to compete for jobs and secure financial stability, which is important to their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, Mississippi residents have lower levels of educational attainment on average that the U.S. as a whole. If we want to close the gap with other U.S. states in health indicators, we need to address some of the deep-seated social issues that account for this gap. One of these is education.
Create a Culture of Health
From the foods we eat to the environments in which we live and work, our culture shapes Mississippians' health in profound ways. To build a healthier Mississippi, we need to cultivate a culture that values being healthy and that helps us as individuals make healthier choices. These choices include aspects of our daily lives. If we want Mississippians to live healthier and longer lives, we must work to make it easier for people to make healthier choices. The healthy choice needs to become the default choice.
Reduce Rate of Chronic Disease
Chronic, non-communicable diseases are the leading causes of death in Mississippi and nationwide. Mississippi consistently rates as one of the most obese states in the nation and has some of the highest rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and strokes in the nation. Obesity is one of the greatest threats to the health of our state, and efforts thus far have had limited effectiveness in curbing this growing epidemic. According to the CDC, 75% of total health care expenditures are associated with treating chronic diseases. If Mississippians reduce their BMI rates to lower levels and achieve an improved status of health, the state could save over $13 billion annually in unnecessary health care costs. If we want to build a healthier Mississippi, we must tackle this grave problem.
Improve Infant Health
Good health starts before birth. The health of Mississippi’s infants is critical to the long-term health of the state. Unfortunately, Mississippi consistently ranks among the bottom of U.S. states when it comes to indicators of infant health such as infant mortality and low birth weight. In order to protect the future of our state and give each of our residents the best possible start to life, the UpRoot partners decided to focus on improving infant health as a top priority.