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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Hawaii Health Ranks #4 in Nation
By News Release @ 4:17 PM :: 5725 Views :: Energy, Environment

News release from United Health Foundation

The 2011 America’s Health Rankings®, released today by United Health Foundation in collaboration with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, finds that troubling nationwide increases in obesity, diabetes and children in poverty are offsetting improvements in smoking cessation, premature deaths, preventable hospitalizations and cardiovascular deaths.

The report finds that the country’s overall health did not improve between 2010 and 2011 – a drop from the 0.5-percent average annual rate of improvement between 2000 and 2010 and the 1.6-percent average annual rate of improvement seen in the 1990s.

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings closely to help understand the health care needs of individuals and communities nationwide and in Hawaii and has several programs in place designed to address these needs.

“America’s Health Rankings from United Health Foundation is an incredibly valuable tool for us to clearly understand health trends facing us as a nation and here in Hawaii,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., United Health Foundation board member and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “By identifying the key opportunities we face as a state we can pursue innovative solutions to those opportunities.”

Hawaii’s Bill of Health

According to the 22nd Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Hawaii is No. 4 this year compared to fifth in 2010 when compared with the health of other states. This year’s report finds that, just like every other state, Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

· Low levels of air pollution

· Lower prevalence of obesity than all other states

· Low prevalence of diabetes

Hawaii’s Challenges

· Low use of early prenatal care

· High geographic disparity within the state

· Low immunization coverage

“Hawaii’s improved ranking is a positive reflection of the overall health of our residents, but there are still many areas where we need to continue to work together to help people make healthier choices, break down the barriers to quality care and create positive health changes in the community,” said David W. Heywood, vice president, UnitedHealthcare of Hawaii.

UnitedHealthcare Programs Address Hawaii’s Health Needs

UnitedHealthcare has several programs in place that seek to address the health needs underscored in this year’s America’s Health Rankings. For instance, the UnitedHealthcare HEROES grants program offers schools and youth-focused community organizations up to $1,000 to create programs that fight childhood obesity. Previous grant recipients have created community gardens, healthy cookbooks, and revamped school lunch menus.

All 50 States: Vermont Still the Healthiest

For the fifth year in a row, Vermont was the nation’s healthiest state. States that showed the most substantial improvement include New York and New Jersey, both moving up six places. Idaho and Alaska showed the most downward movement. Idaho dropped 10 spots, from number nine to 19 in this year’s Rankings, and Alaska dropped five places.

Nationwide: Progress in Some Areas Offset by Setbacks in Others

This year’s Rankings highlight several positive nationwide trends. Improvements were made in:

· Smoking cessation: 17.3 percent of the population smoked in 2011, down from 17.9 percent in 2010 – a 3.4-percent decline since 2010; a 25.4-percent decline since 2001.

· Preventable hospitalizations: 70.6 preventable hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare enrollees in 2011, down from 68.2 preventable hospitalizations in 2010 – a 3.4-percent decline since 2010; a 17.3-percent decline since 2001.

· Cardiovascular deaths: 270.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2011, down from 278.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2010 – a 2.8-percent decline since 2010; a 22.2-percent decline since 2001

While this year’s Rankings showed notable improvements, they were offset by troubling increases in:

· Obesity: From 26.9 percent of the adult population in 2010 to 27.5 percent in 2011 – a 2.2-percent increase since 2010; a 37.5-percent increase since 2001; 2011 is the first year when no state had an obesity prevalence under 20 percent.

· Diabetes: From 8.3 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011 – a 4.8-percent increase since 2010; a 42.6-percent increase since 2001.

· Children in poverty: From 20.7 percent in 2010 to 21.5 percent in 2011 – a 3.9-percent increase since 2010; a 33.5-percent increase since 2001.

The fact that the country did not improve at all in overall health status means there was a total balance between improvements and detriments across all 23 measures. A compelling example of this stagnation is improvements in the number of smokers being off-set by worsening rates of obesity: the Rankings found that, for every person who quit smoking in 2011, another person became obese.

To see the Rankings in full, please visit:

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 22 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, please visit


PDF: AHR Hawaii 2011 Ranking


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