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(PRESS RELEASE) — Hawaii is the healthiest state; Mississippi is least healthy

Nationwide, Americans made improvements in a majority of health measures

Improvements span key behavioral measures including smoking and physical inactivity

Serious challenges remain; maintaining momentum is key


Americans are making considerable progress in their overall health, according to United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities. Mississippi ranks last in overall health according to this year’s rankings.

Nationwide, Americans improved in a majority of the measures captured by the rankings. The most notable gains came in key behavioral measures, including smoking, physical activity and obesity.

Mississippi’s Overall Health

According to the 24th Edition of America’s Health Rankings®, Mississippi ranks 50th this year when compared with other states. The 2013 report illustrates Mississippi has its share of strengths and challenges.

Mississippi’s Strengths:

The smoking prevalence in adults declined by 8.3 percent in the past year.

The percentage of uninsured population decreased by 25 percent in the past five years.

Mississippi’s Weaknesses

The prevalences of obesity, physical inactivity, and diabetes remain among the highest in the nation.

Mississippi ranks last in the nation for infectious disease incidence.

Key Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs

“United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings® provides an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Mississippi and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Dr. Penny Walker, Senior Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare Southeast Region. “This report is an important tool for designing meaningful programs to address our biggest challenges and to help us measure the progress we’ve made in our efforts to date.

Additionally, United Health Foundation provides a variety of tools to help communities and individuals make healthy choices, including customizable reports, enhanced social media and other innovative online resources on its website, www.americashealthrankings.org.

50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest; Mississippi Least Healthy

Hawaii has taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont, last year’s reported No. 1 state, is ranked second this year and has ranked among the top five states for the last decade. Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranks 50th this year, and Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46) complete the five least healthy states.

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org.

Nationwide, notable gains in key behavioral measures included smoking, which dropped from 21.2 percent of the adult population to 19.6 percent. Seventeen states had significant drops in smoking, with the largest seen in Nevada, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Vermont.

Physical inactivity dropped from 26.2 percent of the adult population to 22.9 percent, and America’s obesity rate remained approximately the same as reported in 2012 (27.6 percent of the adult population in 2013 compared with 27.8 percent in 2012). This marks the first time since 1998 that obesity rates have not worsened.

When it comes to improving the nation’s health, there is still much to be done. Obesity has leveled off; however, it must remain a top priority. With the current rate of physical inactivity and the diabetes rate at 9.7 percent, there is still considerable room for improvement in these key health measures. The drop in smoking rates is encouraging, but the report shows nearly one in five adults still smoke.

“I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this year and hope that the leveling off we see in America’s obesity rate is a sign of further improvement to come,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “We should certainly celebrate these gains. They encourage us to continue to identify and effectively implement best practices that will continue progress in these areas and in addressing diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions that compromise Americans’ health and vitality.”

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