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United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings® Finds Americans Living Longer But Unnecessarily Sicker

Stocks in this article: UNH

Americans are living longer due to several medical advances, but unhealthy behavior and preventable illness threaten quality of life, according to United Health Foundation’s 2012 America’s Health Rankings ®.

While premature, cardiovascular and cancer deaths have declined since 1990 by 18.0 percent, 34.6 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively, Americans are experiencing troubling levels of obesity (27.8 percent of the adult population), diabetes (9.5 percent of the adult population), high blood pressure (30.8 percent of the adult population) and sedentary behavior (26.2 percent of the adult population).

State rankings

For the sixth year in a row, Vermont is the nation’s healthiest state. Hawaii is ranked second, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The five least healthy states are South Carolina (46), West Virginia (47), Arkansas (48), and Mississippi and Louisiana, which tied for the 49 th slot. States that showed the most substantial improvement in rankings include: New Jersey (nine slots), Maryland (five slots), and Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Rhode Island (three slots).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org.

“As a nation, we’ve made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., medical adviser, United Health Foundation, and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “We owe this progress not only to medical breakthroughs, but to public health advocates who are working tirelessly to advance wellness on the community level. But our public health heroes cannot do it alone. Longer lives need not be sicker lives, so we must all come together to do more to prevent the risk factors within our personal control.”

“The America’s Health Rankings report is a call to action for individuals – and the communities in which they live – to do something about the nation’s health crisis now,” said Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association.

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