Americans are making considerable progress in their overall health, according to United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.
We're smoking less and moving more
Nationwide, Americans improved in the majority of the measures captured by the Rankings. The most notable gains came in key behavioral measures, including smoking, which dropped from 21.2 percent of the adult population to 19.6 percent. Seventeen states had significant drops in smoking, with the largest seen in Nevada, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Vermont.
Physical inactivity dropped from 26.2 percent of the adult population to 22.9 percent, and America’s obesity rate remained approximately the same as reported in 2012 (27.6 percent of the adult population in 2013 compared with 27.8 percent in 2012). This marks the first time since 1998 that obesity rates have not worsened.
Hawaii has taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont, last year’s reported No. 1 state, is ranked second this year and has ranked among the top five states for the last decade. Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranks 50th this year, and Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46) complete the list of the five least healthy states.
Hawaii scored well along most measures particularly for having low rates of uninsured individuals, high rates of childhood immunization, and low rates of obesity, smoking and preventable hospitalizations. Like all states, Hawaii also has areas where it can improve: it has higher-than-average rates of binge drinking and occupational fatalities, and lower-than-average rates of high school graduation.
To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org.
Significant challenges remain
The report's authors note that there is still considerable room for improvement in key health measures, such as obesity, which is still at 27.6 percent for adults. Smoking and diabetes are at 22.9 percent, 19.6 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively.
“I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this year and am hopeful that the leveling off we see in America’s obesity is a sign of further improvement to come,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., external senior medical adviser to the foundation. “We should certainly celebrate these gains. They encourage us to continue to identify and effectively implement best practices in these areas and in addressing diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions that compromise Americans’ health and vitality.”
The report is designed to identify health opportunities in communities as well as multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary approaches to address those opportunities. The foundation has partnered with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Business Coalition on Health to create learning laboratories that identify and promote best practices and innovations in public health. Learn more at: www.americashealthrankings.org.
About America’s Health Rankings®
America’s Health Rankings is an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by state basis. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.