Friday, December 5, 2008

U.S. Health Stagnates For Fourth Year In A Row As Revealed In 2008 America's Health Rankings™

“In a disturbing development, the 2008 America's Health Rankings™: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities revealed that the health of Americans has failed to improve for the fourth consecutive year. During the 1990s, health improved at an average rate of 1.5 percent per year, but improvements against national health measurements have remained flat for the last four years. Smoking, obesity, and the uninsured are the nation's three most critical challenges. Significant reductions in the prevalence of smoking have not occurred since the early 1990s and have virtually stalled in the last four years. The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the last 19 years. An alarming one in four Americans is currently considered obese putting them at increased risk for health issues such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer (endometrial, breast, colon, and gallbladder). Nearly 46 million Americans are currently uninsured, leaving them without adequate medical care for chronic conditions or preventive treatment that would help reduce future illnesses. America's Health Rankings™ 2008 edition shows Vermont as the healthiest state for the second year in a row. A broad range of health initiatives have made it possible for Vermont to make progress in areas where the rest of the country needs the greatest improvement. Within the state, the prevalence of smoking has declined to 17.6 percent of the population, there is a slower rise in obesity than the U.S. national average, and the number of people without health insurance remains low. Vermont leads the nation for all health determinants measured. Vermont was ranked 16th when the first edition of America's Health Rankings™ was released and has been climbing steadily in the rankings for the last eight years. Louisiana replaces Mississippi as the least healthy state this year. A comparison of state rankings from 2007 to 2008 indicates that 36 states had positive changes in their overall health scores and 14 experienced declines. The United States currently falls behind 27 other countries in terms of a healthy life expectancy with an average of 69 years, while Japan leads all countries with an average of 75 years. ‘These statistics indicate that what we are doing as a nation is not working,’ said Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director of American Public Health Association. ‘We know improvement is possible because other nations have achieved far better health outcomes at less cost, indicating that we, too, can do the same. The solution is to build a foundation for health by creating a culture of wellness and prevention. It is no longer acceptable to simply focus on treatment and cures.’

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