The just released 2013 edition of America’s Health Rankings indicates that after several years of making little to no progress in overall healthiness, key risk factors are showing encouraging signs. Tobacco smoking has decreased from 21.2% to 19.6%; physical inactivity has gone from 26.2% to 22.9%; and obesity, which was increasing consistently each year, has stabilized at 27.6%. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, diabetes increased from 9.5% to 9.7% of the population.
The take home message from this year’s America’s Health Rankings is that these positive trends indicate that it is possible for individuals, communities, public officials and the clinical care system to work together to make progress in key areas. However, the other message is that having almost 20% of the population still smoking; 23% of the population not being physically active; and more than 20% of the population obese, means that there is an urgency for much greater attention to the promotion of health and the prevention of disease.
Think about it this way: It is simply not possible, nor affordable, for our country to “medicalize” the tsunami of preventable chronic illness afflicting our country. We must turn off the spigot and do it now!
I urge you to go to the website www.americashealthrankings.org and you will find an extraordinary variety and depth of information, tools and resources.