Last week, America’s Health Rankings released its 2013 rankings of how the states measure up on leading health indicators and other important factors that influence health.
Each year for nearly a quarter of a century, America’s Health Rankings – a partnership between United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the Partnership for Prevention – have provided a comprehensive snapshot of the health of the nation as a whole and comparatively across states. The rankings employ a number of data elements that represent measures of behaviors associated with risk (e.g. smoking, binge drinking, obesity), environmental factors (e.g. violent crime, air pollution, poverty), policy factors (e.g. public health funding, rates of immunization), and clinical data (e.g. low birthweight, the number of primary care physicians).
In 2013, Hawaii, Vermont, and Minnesota top the list; while Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas are ranked last. The full list of rankings can be found here.
The report also tracks improvements and challenges both over the short- and long-term. Since its 2012 rankings, the nation has seen positive declines in rates of smoking, binge drinking, and physical inactivity. Over the longer term, the rankings note national successes in reducing preventable hospitalizations, occupational fatalities, and air pollution. However, long-term negative trends have been noted in the rate of poverty among children, increasing rates of uninsurance, and immunization coverage for children.
In a matter of days, important policy changes will be going into effect that will undoubtedly impact many of these indicators. It will certainly be interesting to see how the needle may change on these trends in the coming years.