Fit or fat? That's the message on the 2011 annual report card for health in Mississippi.
"We do have a lot of health problems in this state and a lot of those are things are those that each individual can make a choice as to whether they put themselves at risk or not," said Dr. Mary Currier, Mississippi's state health officer.
The Mississippi State Medical Association released a report card on the state of Mississippi's health. Not surprisingly, Mississippi ranks near the top in being unhealthy.
"And every day, family physicians, internal medicine physicians, and pediatricians across the state have patients come in, even children, that are morbidly obese," said Dr. Luke Lampton, a family physician and chairman of the Mississippi Board of Health.
But that only scratches the surface. The report also shows that Mississippi is number one in heart disease deaths, obesity, and teen pregnancy.
The state is also number two in diabetes, hypertension, and infant mortality.
Consequently, Lampton says frequently his patients' health reflect what's going on in the state.
"And to change these lives, all of these things are going to have to happen at home," said Lampton. "And the percentages are just galling."
The state health department says health screenings are critical in disease prevention. But often these measures aren't offered in rural communities.
That's one reason why lawmakers say legislation should get passed to make access to screenings easier for folks in rural areas.
"We ought to strongly recommend that these people have a physical at least once a year," said state Rep. Steve Holland.
For now, the future of Mississippi's health is yet to be determined. The health report also shows Mississippi ranks 49th in the nation in the number of physicians per capita.