The overall health of Americans declined by 0.3 percent over the past year, even though progress has been made in several key health indicators, according to the 18th annual America’s Health Rankings report released Monday by the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the Partnership for Prevention.
Between 1990 and 2000, the United States had annual 1.5 percent increases in overall health. But improvement has stagnated since 2000, the report found. While there have been modest gains in reducing rates of cancer and cardiovascular death rates, these advances are overshadowed by increases in obesity, numbers of uninsured people, children living in poverty, and the continuation of risky health behaviors, such as tobacco use and violent crime.
Obesity has increased from 11.6 percent of the population in 1990 to more than 25 percent (55 million) today. The number of uninsured Americans has risen from 13.4 percent of the population in 1990 to 15.8 percent (47 million) today.
The U.S. continues to trail many other nations in important health indicators such as overall life expectancy, healthy life expectancy and infant mortality. Life expectancy in the U.S. is at its highest point in history (77.9 years) but is behind 43 other countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.
In terms of healthy life expectancy — number of years of active, healthy life expected at birth — a baby girl born in the U.S. can expect 71 years of healthy life, compared to 78 years for a baby girl born in Japan.
Based on the 20 health measures included in the report, Vermont, Minnesota, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Connecticut ranked as the top five healthiest states, while Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi (the least healthiest state) were the bottom five. [link]
It’s worth noting that the New England states all ranked fairly well. As noted above, Vermont was #1, New Hampshire #4, and Connecticut #5. In addition, Maine was #7, Massachusetts #9, and Rhode Island #11. For the full rankings, follow this link. The entire report can be found here on the United Health Foundation website.