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Survey: Graduates Healthy in S.D.

April 3, 1998

ATLANTA (AP) _ Want to beat the doldrums and those nagging sniffles and sneezes? Get a college diploma _ preferably in South Dakota.

A state-by-state government health survey shows that college graduates felt better emotionally and physically than high school dropouts. And no graduates felt better on more days than those in South Dakota.

The survey, released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reinforces past studies ``that say the environment, the economy and socioeconomic levels are an indicator of a person’s health,″ CDC researcher Dave Moriarty said.

College graduates feel better emotionally and physically than high school dropouts because they have better jobs, take better care of themselves and have better access to health care, the study said.

College graduates felt healthy an average of 26 days a month, while high school dropouts felt good 22.8 days a month.

Broken down by state, the survey indicated that South Dakota’s college graduates had the highest average of healthy days a month, 27.1. High school dropouts there reported feeling healthy 23.8 days a month.

``Some of the hassles of urban life are not present here,″ said Lance Parker of South Dakota’s Public Health Department. ``There’s only 700,000 people here and about 75,000 square miles. There’s the clean air and clean water.″

At the other end of the survey results, Kentucky _ one of the nation’s top tobacco and coal producers _ had the lowest number of healthy days. College graduates there reported feeling well 23.7 days a month, and high school dropouts felt well only 21.3 days.

Greg Lawther of Kentucky’s Health Department attributed the results to his state having the highest smoking rates in the country.

``You could look at just that factor alone and know we’re going to have health problems,″ he said.

The CDC’s report doesn’t explain the reasons behind the differences among states, but Moriarty said it could help states improve or add to existing health programs.

``What this says is that people that have limited education or access to information are not feeling as healthy as those who do,″ Moriarty said.

Between 1993 and 1996, 431,996 people across the country were asked by telephone about how healthy they felt emotionally and physically during a 30-day period.

The CDC said the report may underestimate a state’s health problems because not everyone had telephones or was eager to confess their habits.

But Moriarty said studies have shown that asking people to rate their own health is an inexpensive and generally reliable technique, especially with the elderly.

California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Rhode Island had a lower average number of healthy days than the rest of the country.

Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee had higher-than-average healthy days.

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