Report ranks Hawaii healthiest state in the nation
The 2018 Annual Report from America’s Health Rankings recently ranked Hawaii the healthiest state in the nation. America’s Health Rankings has been publishing the report for 29 years — Hawaii was ranked number two last year, but has claimed the number-one spot six out of the last seven years and has never dipped below a sixth-place ranking.
America’s Health Rankings evaluates and compares 35 health markers state-by-state for its annual report. The markers fall under five overarching categories: behaviors, community & environment, policy, clinical care, and outcomes.
Hawaii ranked in the top eight states for every category, but its strongest showing was in outcomes. The state’s relatively low rates of cancer deaths, cardiovascular deaths, and frequent mental distress — in addition to its relatively low difference in reports of good/excellent health from adults who have a high school education versus those who don’t — contribute most to its overall number two ranking in the category.
The report highlights several other strengths that helped boost Hawaii’s overall rating. One is its low prevalence of obesity in relation to the rest of the country: 23.8 percent of adults in Hawaii are obese; nationally, the prevalence is 31.3 percent. Another is its low prevalence of smoking; 12.8 percent of adults in Hawaii smoke; the prevalence is 17.1 percent nationally.
Positive trends noted in the report’s Hawaii-specific breakdown include that chlamydia decreased 3 percent in the last year (the country as a whole saw a 4 percent increase); the percentage of uninsured people decreased 53 percent in the past five years; and smoking decreased 24 percent in the past six years. Hawaii was also one of only three states that saw a decrease in its suicide rate, rather than an increase, and has the highest life expectancy of any state at 81.3 years (life expectancy in the U.S. as a whole is 78.6 years).
But Hawaii’s overall number-one score doesn’t mean it’s without challenges.
“In the past five years, diabetes increased 40% from 7.8% to 10.9% of adults” in Hawaii, according to the report.
The report also notes that excessive drinking has increased 7 percent in the past five years, bringing the percentage of adults who engage in excessive drinking to a little over 21 percent; its high prevalence of excessive drinking earned it a 42nd-place ranking on that marker for 2018. Other challenges noted in the report include low Tdap immunization coverage for adolescents — 84.8 percent to the nation’s 88.7 percent — and a high rate of incidence of salmonella.