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Health issues eat state up from within

Published 12:05am Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This week’s federal holiday paying homage to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. focuses much attention on King’s great work fighting for equality.

Some 45 years since he was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet, what would King think about how far America has come or how little it’s changed?

Clearly no one knows that answer, but King would almost certainly be focused on finding a solution to one of society’s problems.

We believe one of King’s new dreams, were he alive today, might be a renewed focus on preventable health care woes our nation continues to fight.

Looking only at Mississippi’s statistics, one can see the worst of our nation’s health ills.

Mississippi ranks worst among all U.S. states for heart disease and low-birth-weight babies. The state does a bit better — second worst — on diabetes, obesity, cancer deaths and teen births. At least some of those ailments are caused or complicated by our culture’s desire to eat unhealthy foods, not exercise and generally not take care of ourselves.

In the 1960s, King was fighting a well-established society that was intent on not bending. Today, however, the foe may be much more difficult to quell — a society trained to do what it wants when it wants, with the consequences pushed out into the future — and possibly with someone else footing the bill.

Solving that problem will be tough, but the matter will continue to eat our country apart with ever-rising health care costs if we don’t find a solution soon.