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      Missouri 8th unhealthiest state, claims organization

      A local organization has released statistics that say the State of Missouri is among the worst in the nation when it comes to the health of its population.

      The Missouri Hospital Association says there are lots of reasons why Missouri ranks 42 out of 50 for overall healthiness.

      "We have fairly unhealthy lifestyles as Missourians," said spokesman David Dillon. "We're not as active as we need to be, we smoke too much, and we have a high degree of uninsured in Missouri, as compared to other states."

      According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 13.3 percent, or roughly 800,000 Missourians lack health insurance. Dillon says he thinks if more people were insured and had regular access to healthcare that it would lead to a decrease in the numbers of Missourians suffering from health problems.

      However, Dillon also said an insurance policy does not address the root of the problem.

      "Eating healthy makes an absolute difference. Almost as much of a difference as staying active, eating healthy," Dillon said.

      A supermarket dietitian said many people are already aware of the supermarket's trappings when they walk through the door.

      "People are trying to look for healthier options," said Dietitian Lindsey Koelling. She said she sees a lot of people come into the Hy-Vee where she works each day, who ask her for healthier options and new ways to cook fruits and vegetables.

      Over the past several years, Missouri has made some strides in public health, like creating bike trails to exercise on. However, it's still largely up to the individual to decide on what to eat, or whether or not to exercise.

      It's that choice that makes good health more than simply a matter of statistics. However, lack of insurance is a serious problem for those who need it but do not have it. The Missouri Department of Insurance has information which can help people obtain it.