I am pleased to share with you that the United Health Foundation, in partnership with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, released the 25th annual America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities. For the third consecutive year, Hawaii is the healthiest state and Vermont ranks second. Massachusetts improves to third, Connecticut is fourth and Utah joins the top five states after spending two years ranked sixth. Minnesota and New Hampshire lost their places in the top 5.
Mississippi ranks 50th for the third consecutive year. Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Oklahoma complete the bottom five states. Oklahoma’s rank changed from 44th to 46th and Kentucky changed from 45th to 47th moving West Virginia and Alabama out of the bottom five states.
Obesity and physical inactivity increased in 2014 after showing encouraging results last year. Obesity increased 7.0 percent from 27.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults. Likewise, the percentage of adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last 30 days increased from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent.
At the same time, Americans showed continued improvement in smoking, which declined three percent this year, and has consistently declined over the past decade; and in immunization coverage for adolescents, which increased by five percent. Infant mortality rates also decreased by four percent compared with last year.
25 Years of Measuring the Nation’s Health
The 25th anniversary America’s Health Rankings report finds Americans have made significant progress in several key lifespan measures, including life expectancy which, at 78.7 years, is the highest it’s ever been. We have seen significant declines in premature death, infant mortality, cancer and cardiovascular deaths and the steady decline in tobacco use stands out as a major health accomplishment. However, the last 25 years also reveal that Americans have yet to achieve widespread, uniform success in preventing chronic health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Obesity – now one of the leading contributors to death in the U.S. – has risen at a troubling pace. Since 1990, obesity has increased 153 percent from 11.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults, across the U.S. After improving slightly in 2013, obesity rates rose again last year. Self-reported diabetes has more than doubled since it emerged as a metric 20 years ago, and is at 9.6 percent of the adult population. Finally, physical inactivity remains high with 23.5 percent of adults reporting no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
While the report shows progress, we must continue to focus on combating rising rates of chronic illness that threaten quality of life, particularly if we are to reverse rates of obesity and associated diseases like diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Take a look at your state’s rankings by visiting www.americashealthrankings.org!