People living in the Southern U.S. are more likely to be medicated than people living elsewhere, Forbes.com reported Wednesday.
When it comes to popping pills, many Southern states beat the nationwide average of 11.1 retail prescriptions per capita in 2006, according to the latest figures compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org and data provider Vector One: National.
West Virginia topped the list of most medicated states with 17.2 retail prescriptions filled per capita, followed by Missouri, 15.9; Tennessee, 15.8; Alabama, 15.7; and Kentucky, 15.4, Forbes reported.
Alaska was the state with the least prescriptions filled per capita at 6.5, followed by California with 7.4, and Hawaii at 7.7.
One reason why prescription drug use is so much higher in the South is because obesity is also higher in that region of U.S., according to the report. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia, for example, had the highest obesity rates in the U.S. in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Obesity is just a known risk factor for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension," said Emily Cox, senior director of research for Express Scripts, which conducted its own research on prescription drug use in the U.S. in 2000 and 2006.
"If you have one of those conditions, the primary mode of care in many cases is going to be drug therapy,” she told Forbes.