United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® finds North Carolina ranks 35 among all US states in overall health
- Hawaii is the healthiest state
- 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
Asheville, North Carolina (Dec. 11, 2013) – 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.
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.
North Carolina’s Overall Health
According to the 24th Edition of America’s Health Rankings®, North Carolina ranks 35 this year when compared with other states. The 2013 report illustrates North Carolina has its share of strengths and challenges.
North Carolina’s Strengths
- Low prevalence of binge drinking
- Low incidence of pertussis infections
- High immunization coverage among children
North Carolina’s Challenges
- High incidence of chlamydia and Salmonella infections
- Limited availability of dentists
- High infant mortality rate and high prevalence of low birthweight
Key North Carolina Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs
UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings® closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities across the nation and in North Carolina. UnitedHealthcare has several programs in place designed to address the nation’s health challenges at a state level. These programs help educate people on living healthier lives and empower communities to take action to improve their health.
Through programs like the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, UnitedHealthcare showcases a commitment to delivering community-based wellness programs that address serious health issues.
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.
“United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings® provides an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing North Carolina and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Dr. John Rennick, medical director for UnitedHealthcare for the Carolinas. “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.”
50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest
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, please visit: www.americashealthrankings.org.
Nationwide: Despite Progress, Significant Challenges Remain
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.”
Nationwide: United Health Foundation Calls for Sustained Momentum
“United Health Foundation is committed to continuing to identify ways to improve health in states in measurable, meaningful ways,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “I hope we soon see the day when we are cheering year-over-year improvements in obesity, given its profound impact on our country, and I look forward to seeing our nation’s percentage of smokers continue to decline.”
The America’s Health Rankings® report and its tools – including analysis not only of state populations but also sub-populations within states – are designed to identify health opportunities in communities as well as multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary approaches to address those opportunities. Through its programs and grants, United Health Foundation shines a spotlight on the health of America while promoting evidence-based solutions. As part of this commitment, United Health Foundation has partnered with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and with the National Business Coalition on Health to create learning laboratories that identify and promote best practices and innovations in public health. To learn more about America’s Health Rankings – and to get information on how to help improve community health – visitwww.americashealthrankings.org.
About United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings®
America’s Health Rankings® is an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by state basis. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.
The data in the report come from well-recognized outside sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, FBI, Dartmouth Atlas Project, U.S. Department of Education and Census Bureau. The report is reviewed and overseen by a Scientific Advisory Committee, with members from leading academic institutions, government agencies and the private sector.
America’s Health Rankings® is the longest-running report of its kind. For 24 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars. For more information, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.
About the United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visitwww.unitedhealthfoundation.org.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 780,000 physicians and other health care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.