The United Health Foundation just released its annual health rankings report, which gives us a sense of the overall levels of health in each of the 50 states. Not surprisingly, some states are doing better than others when it comes to healthy living.
Now in its 26th year, the report highlights the challenges facing the public health of the nation. The good news is that smoking continues to decline, immunization rates are going up and there’s been a decrease in preventable hospitalizations. On the other hand, there’s been a worrisome growth in the rates of drug deaths, diabetes, children in poverty and obesity.
For the fourth year in a row, Hawaii ranks as the nation’s healthiest state. Louisiana falls into last place, replacing Mississippi, which is now second to last in the rankings.
Obesity stands out among the many challenges facing the U.S. Nearly one third of all U.S. adults are obese, with a body mass index of 30 or higher. Obesity contributes to 200,000 deaths a year and leads to heart disease, stroke, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease and dementia, among other preventable conditions. About 21 percent of overall health spending, or $190.2 billion, is spent on obesity-related health issues every year.
The data used in the report comes from the Department of Commerce, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and other reputable sources. Analysts looked at a wide variety of variables, including obesity, smoking, diabetes, hospitalizations and physical inactivity.