Texas is among the worst states for childhood health, new study shows

The Lone Star State's data is especially bad when it comes to mental health, youth obesity rates and exposure to contaminated drinking water.

click to enlarge Texas ranked 44th among U.S. states when it comes to kids' health, according to a new data analysis. - Shutterstock / Jacktamrong
Shutterstock / Jacktamrong
Texas ranked 44th among U.S. states when it comes to kids' health, according to a new data analysis.
Despite Texas politicians' obsession with protecting kids from scary library books, drag performers and online smut, a new study shows the state lands damn near the bottom when it comes to keeping its children healthy.

Texas ranked 44th among U.S. states when it comes to childhood health, according to a data analysis by online pharmacy company Universal Drugstore. West Virginia was the nation's unhealthiest place for kids, while Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in respective order, topped the list.

To determine the rankings, researchers weighed factors that contribute to a healthy or unhealthy childhood, from obesity rates to mental health. They also looked at factors such as air and water quality along with health, childhood sports participation, youth e-cigarette use and reading and math attainment.

Texas fared poorly in most categories. However, its scores were especially bad when it comes to mental health (46th in the nation), youth obesity rates (21.5%) and the percentage of the populace with potentially contaminated drinking water (more than four in five Texans).
While a complex blend of factors account for Texas' dismal ranking, experts have long tied many of the state's overall health problems to its huge percentage of uninsured residents, which is roughly 1.75% the national average. The Lone Star State has long led the nation in percentage of uninsured residents at nearly 17% in 2022.

Unfortunately, that's likely to remain the case. Texas is one of just nine states that have refused to take the federal Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act. What's more, more than 2 million Texans have lost Medicaid coverage since continuous enrollment ended in April 2023, according to data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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