Despite progress in some areas, the overall health of the U.S. has declined by 0.3% since last year, according to a new report on the nations health rankings. The 18th annual study from the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Preventiona group of businesses, government agencies and not-for-profit organizationsmeasured the overall healthiness of individual states and the country. While the report showed reduced rates of cancer and cardiovascular mortality, it said that increasing rates of obesity, uninsured, children in poverty and risky health behaviors such as tobacco use and violent crime have offset those modest gains.
Even though specific mortality rates have improved, this report shows there are still many people who, through unhealthy personal behaviors, adverse community environments and difficult access to care, are vulnerable to a future life of poor healthwhich is essentially preventable, Reed Tuckson, a physician and board member at the United Health Foundation, said in a news release. The consequence of this reality manifests itself in a poor quality of life, people living with chronic disease, compromised productivity and significant escalation in the costs associated with managing chronic illness.
The report used 20 measures of two types: health determinants and health outcomes. Determinants are those items that can affect the future health of the population, while outcomes are those that measure what has already occurred, either through death or missed days due to illness, the report said.
Vermont surpassed Minnesota as the healthiest state in 2007, while Hawaii, New Hampshire and Connecticut rounded out the rest of the top five highest-ranked states. The lowest-ranking, or least healthy states, were Mississippi (50), Louisiana (49), Arkansas (48), Oklahoma (47) and Tennessee (46).
The study said there has been an 18.4% improvement in the nations overall health since the first report in 1990, but that the countrys health has remained stagnant over the past six years. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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