Prescription medication up by 40 percent in 10 years.: image via Buzzle.com Why is it such a widely held view that Californians are always on drugs? Forbes came out with its Most Medicated States list - the top ten drugged states - and California is not even number 10 on the list.
Although the list ranked the states according to data collected by SDI, a private analytics firm, the data was based on the number of prescription drugs filled per capita in 2009. The most prescribed drug (and the most abused) was Hydrocodone/APAP, a pain-reliever that is an opioid, a narcotic, and highly addictive; nevertheless California is not among the top 10. (I tease California, believe me.)
The other data that Forbes shares about each state was pulled together from 2009 CDC statistics. In most high prescription drug states, there is also a high percent of obesity, deaths from heart disease, and a high incidence of diabetes.
Number 1 Most Medicated State: West VirginiaWest Virginia: JanGottwalk_iStockphoto via Forbes.com
Unbelievably, West Virginians had an average of 18.4 prescriptions filled in 2009 compared to 11.6 prescriptions nationally. West Virginia was also first in this category in 2008. ( The state's Medicare program has no limit on the number of prescriptions a person can fill.) In 2009, 68 percent of West Virginians were obese or overweight, and 12.3 percent of the population had diabetes, compared to the national average of 8.3 percent. For each 100,000 persons, 220.6 persons (roughly), died from heart disease; the national average is 190.9, which isn't so great either.
Number 2 Most Medicated State: Tennessee Tennessee: Fotografia Basica_iStockphoto via Forbes.com
Tennessee is just slightly below West Virginia in all categories included in the Forbes data. Number of prescriptions per capita was 16.9, about 66 percent of the population is overweight or obese, 10.2 percent of the population had diabetes and 220.6 persons per 100,000 died from heart disease.
Number 3: Most Medicated State: AlabamaAlabama: shutterstock via Forbes.com
Alabama should have been tied with Tennessee for second place in this contest of honor. Its stats are even higher in some categories, but if you're just looking at prescriptions for this rating, the state did have .2 fewer prescriptions per capita - 16.7 vs. 16.9. But nearly 66 percent of the adult population is overweight, 235.5 persons per 100,000 died of heart disease, and 12.2 percent of Alabamans had diabetes in 2009.
Number 4 Most Medicated State: KentuckyKentucky: iStockphoto via Forbes.com
So far, there are only small differences in the health of citizens in the four top sick states. Kentuckians take an average of 16.5 medications per years, 64 percent of its population is overweight, 220.9 died of heart disease per 100,000, and 11.5 percent had diabetes. The diabetes factor does appear to be loosing traction.
Number 5 Most Medicated State: ArkansasArkansas: Andrzej Tokarski_iStockphoto via Forbes.com
With 16.4 prescriptions per capita, 63.5 percent overweight or obese, 221.8 deaths per 100,000 from heart disease, and 10.1 percent diabetic adults, Arkansas is right up there among the most unhealthy populations in the country.
Number 6 Most Medicated State: South CarolinaSouth Carolina: Pareme_iStockphoto via Forbes.com
We're still up there in number of prescriptions; this time 16.3 per capita. What's interesting in South Carolina is that those dying of heart disease in 2009, was much closer to the national average - 192.9 per 100,000. Also, the obesity rates and rates of diabetes are above, but closer to national averages than the top five states - 62.8 percent and 10.3 percent respectively.
Number 7 Most Medicated State: MississippiMississippi: shutterstock via Forbes.com
With a whopping 67.8 percent of population overweight or obese, and 266.5 per 100,000 dying per year from heart disease, perhaps this should be the number one sickest state. But since the rating is based on medications per capita, 15.9 is lower than the top six states.
Number 8 Most Medicated State: IowaIowa: shutterstock via Forbes.com
Ah, we're moving out of the southern states into the mid-west. Iowa has some really good news though, compared to the top seven on this list. Its rate of adults with diabetes is 7.6 percent, below the national average of 8.3 percent, and its deaths from heart disease, at 174.8 per 100,000, is also lower than the national average by 15 people. But prescriptions per capita are high at 15.3, as is the percent of obese or overweight persons, 62.6 percent.
Number 9 Most Medicated State: MissouriMissouri: shutterstock via Forbes.com
The state that boasts the biggest arches in the country also has room for 63.8 percent fat citizens who take 15 prescriptions per capita. The death rate from heart disease per 100,000 is not so hot at 214.4, but persons with diabetes, 7.9 percent of the population, are fewer in Missouri than in the country at large.
Number 10 Most Medicated State: VermontVermont: shutterstock via Forbes.com
What? Out of nowhere comes Vermont, a northeast state with the reputation of a rugged population with a relatively undisturbed lifestyle. In fact, the state has a lower rate of heart disease deaths, lower incidence of diabetes, and a lower percentage of overweight persons than the national average. Unfortunately, though, Vermonters take a bunch of pills - 15 per capita.
That's the fat, the sick, and the drugged report. It's not a surprise, as at least eight of these states are always on high obesity lists and that's the cause of most heart disease and diabetes cases. I wonder if the folks in these states will ever change their lifestyles?
Sources: Forbes.com Full List, Forbes analysis