United Health Foundation released its 25th annual report Americas Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities in December. The report shows rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity, which threaten Americans quality of life, according to a news release. The report also shows Americans progress in several key health metrics in 2014.
According to the report, obesity and physical inactivity increased in 2014 after showing encouraging results in 2013. The obesity rate increased from 27.6% to 29.4% of adults. Obesity more than doubled over the last 25 years, from 11.6% of adults in 1990. Likewise, the percentage of adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last 30 days increased from 22.9% to 23.5%. Adults who say they have diabetes currently stand at 9.6%, more than double the number from 20 years ago when Americas Health Rankings first started tracking diabetes, according to the report.
Obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity rates are troublingly high, Rhonda Randall, DO, senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions, said in the release. We must continue to promote positive health behaviors and help prevent the devastating consequences of chronic illnesses that are often left unchecked.
The good news is the number of Americans who smoke continued to decrease, declining 3% this year. Since 1990, smoking rates have decreased 36%, from 29.5% to 19.0% of adults who smoke regularly. Immunization coverage for adolescents increased by 5%. We applaud hard-won advances in several key measures, including smoking prevalence, even as this years Americas Health Rankings is a solemn reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us, Reed Tuckson, MD, senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation, said in the release. It is inevitable that increases in the rates of obesity and physical inactivity will result in more people suffering from significant chronic diseases that compromise the quality of their lives, adversely affect their families and are unaffordable for the nation.
The report also states that Hawaii is still considered the healthiest state, with Vermont coming in second, followed by Massachusetts, then Connecticut. Mississippi ranked 50th this year, preceded by Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Kentucky (47) and Oklahoma (46).
Hawaii consistently scores well in the reports measures, including a low prevalence of smoking, obesity and children in poverty, as well as low levels of disparity in health by education level. Hawaii also ranks well for low rates of preventable hospitalizations and for cancer and cardiovascular deaths, according to the report. At 78.8 years, Americans average life expectancy is at a record high, according to the report.
The report finds Americans have made other meaningful strides in health since 1990, including declines in:
infant mortality 41% decrease
cardiovascular death 38% decrease
premature death 20% decrease
U.S. cancer mortality rates have shown a steady decline, dropping 8% between 1996 and 2014.
UHF also introduced new online tools to inspire health advocacy across states and communities, including the Change My Rank online tool, which allows users to see how improving several key measures affects the states overall rank.
For more information, visit http://www.americashealthrankings.org/