The American Public Health Association and the United Health Foundation have released America’s Health Ranking Report for 2015.
The teams behind the report, which has ranked America’s 50 states every year since 1990, hope the data will inspire change for better health on a state and national level.
The annual study reveals an incredible amount of extensive data. The report covers important health issues such as immunization, sleep habits, dentist visits, cardiovascular disease, and teen pregnancy. The study of such magnitude exposed both positive and negative results.
“This year’s America’s health Rankings Annual Report reveals many encouraging gains in our nation’s health while showing clearly there is much more we as a country must do to maximize our health potential,” explained the external senior medical advisor to the United Health Foundation, Dr. Reed Tuckson. “This report is a call to action to make disease prevention a key component of our culture. We want to ensure everybody – matter what state they call home – is empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities.”
For instance, Hawaii isn’t just a great place for a sunny vacation. It was named America’s healthiest state for the fourth consecutive year. Since the report was first released in 1990, Hawaii has consistently ranked best in many of the categories.
In particular, Hawaii stands out for low rates of preventable hospitalizations, poor mental health days, and obesity. Hawaii has also improved their rate of infant immunizations in the last year by 11% to 73.7%.
Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Utah, Colorado, Washington, and Nebraska round out the top 10 healthiest states in the U.S.
The unhealthiest states are in the south: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Indiana.
North Carolina improved the most. They jumped from the 37th position to the 31st. They stood out with a decrease in inactivity by 13%. Overall physical inactivity has decreased on a national level. The number of people who had not participated in physical activity in the last 30 days decreased from 25.3% to 22.6%.
Washington also cracked the top 10, jumping from 13th position to ninth. Maine cracked the top 15 with a five-position increase from the 20th spot. They had improvements in both physical activity and immunization rates.
There were also significant drops from states in the report. Oregon fell from 12th to the 20th place due to an obesity increase. New Mexico dropped from 33rd to 37th due to a 10% increase in violent crime.
The report also included noticeable positive trends on a national scale. For example, smoking rates dropped five percent in the last year, and the number has declined 39% since 1990 overall. Preventable hospitalizations also dropped from 62.9 to 57.6 discharges for every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations in adolescent women also had a positive increase from 37.6% to 39.7%. Long-term trends have revealed that infant mortality and cardiovascular deaths continue to steadily decrease.
The report also revealed some challenging areas. The number of people under 18 living in poverty increased from 19.9% to 21.1%. Also, the drug-related death rate increased from 13 to 13.5 deaths per 100,000 people. North Dakota had the lowest rate at 2.7 deaths per 100,000 and West Virginia had the highest at 32.5 per 100,000.
In the obesity category, Colorado, Hawaii, and Massachusetts had the lowest obesity rates, and Mississippi, West Virginia, and Arkansas all ranked highest in obesity. The biggest drinking states included North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The states that drank the least included West Virginia, Tennessee, and Utah.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“2015 Annual Report,” America’s Health Rankings web site; http://www.americashealthrankings.org/reports/Annual, last accessed December 10, 2015.
“America’s Health Rankings Annual Report: Americans Less Sedentary; Rising Drug Deaths, Obesity Pose Challenges,” Business Wire web site, December 10, 2015; http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151209006581/en/Americas-Health-Rankings-Annual-Report-Americans-Sedentary.
Newman, T., “America’s Health Rankings 2015: which state is the healthiest?” Medical News Today web site, December 10, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303833.php.
“America’s Healthiest And Least Healthy States,” Fast Coexist web site; http://www.fastcoexist.com/3054419/americas-healthiest-and-least-healthy-states#1, last accessed December 10, 2015.