Tunica County Men Have Lowest Life Expectancy in the Country
(Tunica County, MS) A new study shows life expectancy in many counties in the South is staying stagnant or decreasing. Tunica and Quitman counties in particular were named as having the lowest life expectancy for men in the country.
“You haven’t been gaining as much life expectancy compared to everybody else in the country as well,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, the professor overseeing the study.
The study looked at data from 1989-2009.
58 percent of TN counties had life expectancies that stayed the same or decreased.
Only Williamson County had a rate higher than national average.
All Mississippi counties have a below-average life expectancy for women.
Tunica and Quitman counties have lowest life expectancy for men in the U.S., at 66.1 years old.
“It’s really not moving in the right direction, and it makes you worry more,” Mokdad said.
He cited smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity-related issues as risk factors for dying younger.
In Tunica, community leaders are starting to take action.
Evelyn Hubbard leads free exercise classes as part of a free program for people with health issues. People who have doctors’ notes describing health problems have free access to gym equipment, workout classes, quarterly evaluations by nurse practitioners, and healthy cooking classes.
Hubbard said, “When you hear stats like that it’s frightening, and you say to yourself, what can you do to make things better?”
One hundred people so far have signed up for the program. Even those who don’t have health problems can join for only $30 a year.
“All they need to do is get up off the couch, and say today is a new today.”
That’s what Adrian Kimble did a while ago, and he’s been going to the gym every day since.
When Kimble learned of the statistics, he said, “Wow, it’s unbelievable. I never would have guessed it, but based on being in the Delta, being in the South, you know that obesity is a problem. I’m part of it, and I’m trying to change that.”
Both Hubbard and Kimble agree that changing traditional eating habits in the South can be hard. They said Southerners have to try to cut back on the fried chicken and apple pie.
Mr. Mokdad said that improving life expectancy has more to do with education than with economics. While more resources make it easier to get things like fresh produce, the key is being aware of one’s health and making the necessary changes.