(LOUISVILLE, Ky., August 8, 2017) A study published in the August 2017 issue of Health Affairs found that the infant mortality rate in Appalachia is 16 percent higher than in the rest of the country, and that the life expectancy for Appalachians is 2.4 years shorter than for those living elsewhere in the United States. Both of these gaps have widened since 1990; there was no statistical difference in the infant mortality rate between Appalachia and the nation as a whole in 1990-1992, and the life expectancy gap was only 0.6 years at that time. Study authors attribute much of the difference to “persistent or increasing disparities in general living standards and health-risk behaviors such as adult smoking, smoking during pregnancy, obesity, physical inactivity, and heavy consumption of alcohol.” Below is a statement from Ben Chandler, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, about this study:
“What this report shows is the extreme damage that tobacco is causing our people, and how we are getting hammered by it worse than any other place in this country. We are the cancer mortality capital of the nation right now, and we just cannot let that stand. If we truly want to change Kentucky’s health statistics, the single most effective thing we can do is to reduce our smoking rates.”
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $26.7 million in health policy research and advocacy, as well as demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
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Bonnie J. Hackbarth