According to the United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings for 2022, Kansas City, Missouri, a city known for its vibrant diversity and cultural heritage, faces significant health challenges, earning it the unenviable distinction of being the least healthy city in the state of Missouri.
After analyzing 35 crucial health indicators, which consist of smoking, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, air quality, immunization rates, and healthcare accessibility, this extensive report examined the health of all 50 states. Missouri received the 39th rank overall, while Kansas managed to secure the 31st position. Additionally, the study provided in-depth rankings for metropolitan areas within each state, utilizing 23 health-related metrics.
Kansas City, MO-KS, ranked at the bottom among the six metropolitan areas in Missouri and fifth among the seven metropolitan areas in Kansas, according to a recent report. The report highlighted concerning health statistics for Kansas City, including the highest rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer-related deaths, as well as infant mortality, when compared to other metropolitan areas in both states.
According to the statistics, the city showed the least amount of immunization rates for both children and seniors. Additionally, it had the smallest percentage of adults who had regular access to healthcare services.
Kansas City’s health outcomes have been a cause for concern, with a range of social and economic factors contributing to the issue. Poverty, education, income, and racial disparities have all played a significant role. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 report, the city’s poverty rate was 16.3%, exceeding both the state and national averages of 13.2% and 10.5%, respectively.
Compared to the state’s median household income of $57,409 and the nation’s $62,843, Kansas City fell short with a median household income of $54,372. What’s more, the city had a considerably higher percentage of Black residents (29.9%) than the state (11.8%) and the nation (13.4%). Unfortunately, these discrepancies often resulted in increased obstacles and bias when seeking quality healthcare and social services for these communities.
According to the 2020 State of the Air report by the American Lung Association, Kansas City ranked 25th among the cities with the highest levels of ozone pollution, highlighting the significance of addressing environmental concerns such as air quality, nutrition, physical activity, and substance use.
The respiratory problems are escalated by the ozone levels, which can worsen pre-existing conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Furthermore, the city has been ranked 47th for particle pollution, which heightens the chances of developing lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The recommended guidelines for physical activity were only adhered to by 22.9% of adults in Kansas City. Shockingly, only 10.7% consumed the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, while 20.5% were smokers. Unhealthy lifestyle choices have played a significant role in the city’s health issues.
To tackle the health disparities in Kansas City, it is imperative that all stakeholders come together and adopt a collaborative and comprehensive approach. This would involve governmental agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, businesses, schools, and individuals working in unison. There are various potential solutions that could be explored to address these challenges, including:
- Expanding access to affordable, quality healthcare, particularly for uninsured or underinsured residents.
- Allocating increased funding and support to public health programs and services that target social determinants of health and work to reduce disparities.
- Promoting healthy behaviors through education, awareness campaigns, incentives, and regulatory measures.
- Enhancing environmental health by reducing air pollution, improving water quality, and increasing green spaces.
- Encouraging civic engagement and community involvement in health-related initiatives and decision-making.
Kansas City, with its charm and opportunities, faces significant health challenges that demand attention. To create a healthier and happier future for all residents, the city must adopt effective and sustainable solutions.