Each year, United Health Foundation provides a report of the United States’ health rankings. The primary objective of the yearly report is to encourage action to improve public health. The not-for-profit, private foundation released their 2014 Annual report on Wednesday.
For 25 years, United Health Foundation has been tracking the health of Americans. Their passion is to help people live healthier lives. They offer the America’s Health Rankings report in an attempt to track, measure, and report the health of the nation; they want to inspire communities and individuals to take steps to improve the health of the nation.
This year’s edition of America’s health rankings found Americans’ quality of life is threatened because of physical inactivity and obesity, which increased in 2014. Nearly a quarter of the adult population surveyed reported not engaging in any physical activity in the last 30 days.
In addition, the health ranking report shows an increase in drug related deaths of American citizens. However, health rankings of 50 states showed a decrease in infant mortality, increased immunization coverage, and a decline in smoking.
Health rankings are determined by comparing each state’s health for a single year. In essence, rather than tracking the overall health of the nation, the health rankings provide a snapshot of state health.
For three consecutive years, United Health Foundation reported Hawaii as the healthiest state in America. Additionally, the state of Vermont’s health rankings puts them 2nd for three consecutive years, as well. Unfortunately, Mississippi is the least healthy state for three consecutive years.
Since 1990, United Health Foundation provides their report on America’s Health Rankings and Hawaii is consistently one of the top six healthiest states due to their low prevalence of obesity and smoking. Moreover, Hawaii also has low mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also have a small percentage of children in poverty and preventable hospitalizations.
On the other hand, health rankings for Mississippi is consistently at the bottom three states due to children in poverty, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, high incidences of infectious diseases, and limited availability of dentists and primary care doctors.
Being leaders by setting examples of healthy behaviors to our family, friends, and coworkers can help reverse the growing trend of preventable disease and premature death. People should not simply rely on public health professionals, programs, and governments to improve health.
The latest health rankings report offers citizens of the United States a call to action for communities and individuals to modify behaviors and implement environmental and policy changes to improve public health.
[Photo courtesy of Norebbo]