Wis. the Last State Where a Healthy Black Person Should Want to Live: Report

Wisconsin is the only state where the gap between black and white life expectancy widened, according to a new study.

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Black women aren’t faring well, healthwise, in the state of Wisconsin.

According to the journal Health Affairs, the life-expectancy gap between black and white women in the state widened by more than 1.5 years between 1990 and 2009. There was also a small uptick for black men, reports WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio.

Geoffrey Swain, medical director for the City of Milwaukee Health Department and a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, had a blunt assessment of the report’s findings: “If you want to be healthy as a black person, you do not want to live in Wisconsin,” Swain said, according to WUWM Radio.

According to Swain, the stark contrast just demonstrates the many social and economic challenges blacks face in the state, such as “poverty, unemployment, chronic stress and low educational attainment,” WUWM Radio reports.

The study doesn’t explain the reasons for the gap, but it’s backed by findings of an Annie E. Casey Foundation report that also ranked Wisconsin last for the well-being of minority children. Researchers propose “intense scrutiny of states that have remarkable patterns of change” as an actionable step.

Clarene Mitchell, director of communication and collaboration for the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, suggested that health outcomes for black women can improve if they have access to insurance, a physician who’s conveniently located and culturally appropriate care.

She added that improving the health and life expectancy of blacks benefits all of Wisconsin. “When we, as a black community, are not able to have good health outcomes, then we’re not able to, on a children’s level, go to school and function properly and get the education,” Mitchell says. “On the adult level, [we’re not] able to go to work and perform as needed, which helps to move and drive this whole economy and community as a whole.”

Read more at WUWM Radio.