A report from a Columbia-based healthcare consulting company shows Missouri lags behind most of the states in terms of our overall health. Missouri Health by the Numbers 2009 – released by Primaris Healthcare Business Solutions – indicates we are behind the national averages.

This report card finds Missouri compares worst in death rates of smoking-related deaths (45), cancer (40), heart disease (40), stroke (39), and kidney disease (36). Primaris CEO Rick Royer points to smoking as a big problem.

"The worst thing is smoking," Royer told the Missourinet. "Missouri finishes near the bottom of the country in terms of smoking-related deaths."

And smoking is the springboard to a couple of deadly diseases.

"Smoking-related problems also spin off into cancer – also spin off into heart disease," said Royer. "So now you have the top two killers in the State of Missouri that are affected by one main thing."

Royer says improvement can be achieved through behavioral changes – not necessarily a lot of money.

"Invariably, there could be some money spent," said Royer. "But many of these things that we’re looking at here are lifestyle-related, it’s education, it’s paying attention, it’s doing the things we all know many of us should be doing – such as exercising regularly, keeping the weight down, not smoking, and engaging in healthy behavior."

Primaris plans to release a new Missouri Health by the Numbers annually.

Download/Listen: Steve Walsh report (:60 MP3)