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 16th Annual America’s Health Rankings Shows Sickly Rate of Improvement After Significant Health Gains in 1990s 
by Healthy News - 1/3/2006
Report reveals Minnesota, Vermont and New Hampshire as Nation’s Healthiest States; Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi Continue to Face Serious Health Challenges

PHILADELPHIA – December 12, 2005 – United Health Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and Partnership for Prevention, today released the 16th annual America’s Health Rankings™ at the APHA’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Visit to view the entire report.

While this year’s report shows that the health of the American population has improved 18.4 percent since 1990, the rate of improvement has slowed dramatically due to a combination of personal, community and public health factors. During the 1990s, health in the United States improved by an annual rate of 1.5 percent. Since 2000, that number has slipped to an average of just 0.3 percent each year – an 80 percent decrease in the rate of improvement.

“Our nation’s slowing rate of improvement should be of concern to us all. Failure to address this trend, and especially to decrease the risk factors that are associated with premature death and disease, will result in preventable misery and unnecessary death for too many Americans in the years to come,” stated William McGuire, M.D., chairman, United Health Foundation Board of Directors.

According to the 2005 report, premature death, which is described as the number of years of potential life lost prior to age 75 per 100,000 population, decreased from 8,716 to 7,398 between 1990 and 2000 – a 15 percent drop. Unfortunately, that progress has begun to erode as premature death experienced an increase between 2000 and 2005.

Additionally, America’s Health Rankings reports that 28 countries have healthy life expectancies greater than that experienced in the United States, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan. In fact, a child born in Japan can expect to experience five additional years of healthy, active life when compared to a child born in the United States.

“This comparative information is extremely important because it is an indication that we as a nation have not achieved optimal health,” explained Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director, APHA. “As Americans, it is apparent that we can – and must – do better to improve overall health status. And, we must do it now.”

America’s Health Rankings also focuses special attention on the key risk factors that are associated with healthy life expectancy and preventable disease, such as the prevalence of obesity, the prevalence of smoking and the adequacy of prenatal care. According to the report, the prevalence of obesity has increased from 11.6 percent of the population in 1990 to 23.1 percent of the population in 2005. Today, nearly 1 in 4 people are considered obese, and the rate of increase shows no evidence of slowing.

Additionally, the progress made in reducing the prevalence of smoking has leveled off. While there has been a 30 percent overall decrease in the prevalence of smoking since 1990, much of the decrease occurred in the early 1990s. From 1993 to 2003, no noteworthy improvement was made in decreasing the overall prevalence of smoking in the United States. In fact, despite considerable effort, 20.8 percent of Americans still smoke.

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Provided by Healthy News on 1/3/2006
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