National Health Trends Show Mixed Progress 

As if there aren’t enough reasons to live in Hawaii, it just ranked first in the nation for the fifth year in a row for having the healthiest residents, according to the 2016 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report from the United Health Foundation.

The annual health rankings report has been tracking trends in health behaviors, policies, care and outcomes since 1990. It offers a comprehensive look at the nation’s health as a whole in addition to the health of people in individual states. Hawaii had the lowest rates of preventable hospitalizations and low rates of uninsurance along with the second-highest public health funding rate in the country. It also ranked second for low rates of obesity and cancer death. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Vermont received the next highest rankings.

Positive National Trends

As reported in The Nation’s Health Feb/March issue, some positive national trends identified a decrease in unhealthy health activities. For example, smoking rates dropped by 41 percent since 1990. The uninsured rate has decreased by 35 percent from 16.2 percent in 2011 and preventable hospitalization for those on Medicare decreased by 35 percent over the past 10 years.

Individual Behaviors Need Improvement

Other trends need to address individual behaviors to make the U.S. healthier. The obesity rate increased to 29.8 percent, which is up from 11.6 recorded in the first report. Also for the first time since 1990, cardiovascular death rates increased to 251.7 from 250.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Additionally, drug deaths rose 4 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Efforts at the community or workplace level can be impactful in helping alleviate unhealthy habits/lifestyles such as physical inactivity and obesity by encouraging participation in wellness initiatives and providing access to healthy food options. Improving individual outcomes will positively influence state and national trends as well. Opportunities for progress need to continue for more promising results to be yielded next year.

Source:  The Nation’s Health. Rankings find improvements in health, but concerns linger. February/March. PP 1.

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