State rank drops in women’s health
Hawaii remains near the top in the U.S., but cancer testing is weak
Hawaii has slipped from sixth to seventh place in the nation in meeting the health needs of women, according to a state-by-state study.
"Overall, Hawaii at seven is fairly good," said Candice Calhoun, with the state Department of Health's Family Health Services Division, Maternal and Child Health Branch.
The state ranked No. 1 in a number of areas, including the lowest percentage of obese women in the country, the lowest rates of coronary heart disease and breast cancer deaths, and the longest life expectancy at 81.3 years, she noted.
How Hawaii fares
The National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health & Science University's "Making the Grade" report on women's health ranks states based on 27 benchmarks. Here is how Hawaii ranked:
No. 1 Lowest percentage of obese women
No. 1 Lowest rates of coronary heart disease and breast cancer deaths
No. 1 Longest life expectancy
No. 49 Pap smears
No. 13 Mammograms
No. 47 Colorectal cancer screening
No. 7 Overall ranking
But Hawaii drew failing grades in two wellness and prevention areas for women -- ranking 49th for Pap smears and 47th for colorectal cancer screening. Hawaii was 37th for cholesterol screening and 13th for mammograms.
Vermont was the best state overall for women's health and Mississippi the worst, according to the study, released yesterday by the National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health & Science University.
"Satisfactory minus" was the highest grade given, and only three states received it: Vermont, Minnesota and Massachusetts.
Twelve states drew failing grades, and all others, including Hawaii, were graded "unsatisfactory" for the status of women's health. When a similar study was done in 2004, Hawaii was in sixth place with a "satisfactory minus" grade.
Twelve states in the new study received overall failing grades, doubling the number in the bottom category three years ago.
For the percentage of women with health insurance, Hawaii ranked fourth in the country with only 10.7 percent uninsured.
But it earned F grades for having 9.3 percent of women living in poverty (eighth best), 79.5 percent earning less money than men (10th) and only 26.9 percent eating five fruits and vegetables a day (30th).
All states had higher percentages of obese women, the report said. Hawaii's 16.7 percentage crept up from 14.1 percent in 2004.
"It is the only status indicator in which every state performed worse than 2004," the study's sponsors said in a news release. "This has serious health consequences since women who are obese are more likely to develop and suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease."
An increased number of women had diabetes in 46 states. Hawaii had a failing grade in that area, with diabetes in isle women increasing from 5.6 percent in 2004 to 6.8 percent in the recent study.
The "Making the Grade" reports assess and rank states based on 27 health status benchmarks, with goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 initiative.
Hawaii has launched many programs to improve physical activity and nutrition for Hawaii's 639,474 women and other residents, Calhoun said. "Hopefully, it is impacting some of these outcomes."