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REPORT: Hawai‘i is 2018’s Healthiest State

December 22, 2018, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated December 22, 4:02 PM
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Big Island Now stock photo. Dec. 2016.

The latest authoritative report on national health ranks Hawai‘i as the healthiest state in the nation for 2018. According to United Health Foundation’s 2018 America’s Health Rankings annual report, Hawai‘i has significantly low levels of obesity, air pollution and mental distress.

In specific categories, the Aloha State ranked third for senior health and seventh for the health of women and children.

The report shows the state’s challenges include low immunization counts among adolescents (specifically Tdap or Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis), excessive drinking and outbreaks of salmonella.

The report also identified the following trends in Hawai‘i:

  • During the past five years, excessive drinking increased by 7% from 19.7% to 21.1% of adults;
  • In the last year, chlamydia decreased 3% from 498.3 to 482.1 cases per 100,000 people;
  • In the past five years, the percentage of uninsured decreased 53% from 7.8% to 3.7% of the population;
  • During the past six years, smoking decreased 24% from 16.8% to 12.8% of adults;
  • In the past two years, primary care physicians increased 9% from 172.6 to 187.6 per 100,000 people;
  • In the past five years, diabetes increased 40% from 7.8% to 10.9% of adults.

The Annual Report ranked Hawai‘i No. 1 for 2018 followed by Massachusetts (No. 2), Connecticut (No. 3), Vermont (No. 4) and Utah (No. 5). Louisiana ranks as the most challenged state this year, while Mississippi (No. 49), Alabama (No. 48), Oklahoma (No. 47) and Arkansas (No. 46) followed as states with the greatest opportunities for improvement.

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Nationwide, the report gave a bleak outlook on the nation’s health. Obesity has reached the highest-ever level this year, affecting more than 30% of adults. Obesity is known to be a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other medical conditions.

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“This year’s Annual Report spotlights an obesity problem that continues to grow,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare National Markets, and an adviser to America’s Health Rankings. “This means more people will likely develop obesity-related chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. We encourage health professionals, public health officials and elected leaders to use these findings to explore opportunities to better support people in their communities in all aspects of their health.”

Additionally, an increase in drug deaths, suicides and cardiovascular disease deaths is contributing to an increase in premature deaths throughout the country. The report shows suicide has increased 16% nationwide since 2012 (from 12.0 to 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people).

Conversely, childhood poverty—a key indicator of socioeconomic status and overall health—decreased 19% during the past five years from 22.6% in 2013 to 18.4% in 2018, and decreased 6% since 2017. The report also shows an increased number of mental health providers (8%) and primary care physicians (5%) per 100,000 people in the last year.

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Read the full report >> 

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