America’s Health Rankings just released their annual report, which analyses the nation’s health every year and ranks the states from healthiest to unhealthiest. You can check out the 10 healthiest states and the 10 unhealthiest states in the U.S.
But the report also looks at the overall health of the nation. These seven charts compare data from 2001 to 2013. We’ve made great strides in some health areas like smoking rates, but we’ve experienced some shocking backslides in other areas, like child poverty rates.
1. Smoking has been on a pretty steady decline. The break in the chart at the 2012-2013 period happens because America’s Health Rankings changed the way it measures smoking rates, so the data is not directly comparable to the earlier years, but still seems to have a downward direction.
2. But obesity has been on a steady rise.It looks like it might be levelling off at around 28% of adults based on data from the past two years, but America’s Health Rankings said its still too soon to tell.
3. Preventable hospital visits have decreased.These are trips to the hospital that easily could have been avoided if the patients had access to a good primary care doctor. These preventable hospital visits are more common among people who don’t have insurance so it leads to lots of unpaid medical bills: hospitals account for about $US750 billion of the total health care expenditure in the U.S., according to the report.
4. Cardiovascular-related deaths have also decreased. Despite the increasing obesity rate — a major risk factor in heart conditions — cardiovascular deaths have actually declined. This might be due to decreases in other risk factors like smoking or because more people are taking drugs to lower cholesterol.
5. The number of children living in poverty has increased. This includes anyone under 18 and its increased 5% since 2001.
6. Infant mortality has decreased. It improved significantly during the 90s, but seems to have leveled out at the beginning of the 21st century.
7. But low birth weights have increased over time.Babies born underweight are often born premature. A variety of factors can contribute to this including lack of quality health care in the prenatal period.
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