East Hawaii News

United Health Ranks Hawai’i as ‘Healthiest State’

December 10, 2015, 9:46 AM HST
* Updated December 10, 9:51 AM
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United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Ranking Annual Reports were recently released with Hawai’i sitting at the top.

Hawai’i is listed as the healthiest state in the country and holds strengths in few poor mental health days, low prevalence of obesity, and low rate of preventable hospitalizations, according to the report.

“Hawaii’s top ranking as the healthiest state in the nation once again this year is very encouraging and reminds us of how fortunate we are to live in the Aloha State,” said Governor David Ige.  “Even with this ranking, we cannot afford to be complacent and we must continue to invest in our public health efforts to ensure access to care and strengthen prevention measures.”

Across the country, Americans are making meaningful progress towards key health metrics like smoking less and leading less sedentary lives, according to the report.

However, the report also notes that drug deaths, including those of illegal and prescription abuse, along with obesity, diabetes, and children in poverty remain high, and in some cases, continue to rise.

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Among Hawai’i’s reported greatest challenges are the high prevalence of excessive drinking, high incidence of Salmonella, and low immunization among adolescents for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis vaccines.

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Virgina Pressler, Director of the Hawai’i Department of Health, says the data has to be viewed in perspective as Hawai’i ranks at the top of the list.

“Hawai’i ranks as the healthiest state, but we need to remember that we are being compared to a nation that has been transformed over the last three decades with rising obesity and chronic disease rates.  State data also masks the equity gap between communities,” said Pressler.  “We need to diligently increase collaboration that will achieve optimal health equity for all people in Hawai’i.”

UnitedHealthcare says the organization has made efforts to watch America’s Health Rankings at a community level, both in Hawai’i and nationally. The observation blends into community support programs that include the IRONKIDS Fun Run and Keiki Dip-n-Dash. Local chapters of organizations like March of Dimes, YMCA, and Alzheimer’s Association also assists in promoting health and wellness.

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“This year’s America’s Health Rankings Annual Report reveals many encouraging gains in our nation’s health while showing clearly there is much more we as a country must do to maximize our health potential,” said Reed Tuckson, external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “This report is a call to action to make disease prevention a key component of our culture. We want to ensure everybody – no matter what state they call home – is empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves, their families and their communities.”

America’s Health Rankings Annual Report is created through a partnership between the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association. For the past 26 years, the report 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 benchmarks and state rankings.

Data included in the report comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, FBI, Dartmouth Atlas Project, U.S. Department of Education, and Census Bureau.

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