Rates of obesity and physical inactivity among Americans rose in 2014, despite progress on several other health fronts, a report published by in partnership with the and finds.
The twenty-fifth edition of (150 pages, PDF) found that the adult obesity rate rose to 29.4 percent in 2014 from 27.6 percent in 2013, while the percentage of those reporting no physical activity in the previous thirty days increased to 23.5 percent from 22.9 percent. The annual study also found that the percentage of smokers among the adult population declined to 19 percent from 19.6 percent, continuing a steady decade-long fall, while immunization coverage for adolescents increased to 67.1 percent from 64 percent and infant mortality rates fell to 6.0 deaths per thousand live births from 6.3 deaths in 2013.
Hawaii topped the of the healthiest states for the third consecutive year, followed by Vermont and Massachusetts, while Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana ranked at the bottom. Hawaii, which has consistently ranked as one of the healthiest states since state rankings were launched in 1990, had low rates of smoking, obesity, children in poverty, and disparities in health by education level.
The report also notes that over the last twenty-five years the rate of premature death in America fell some 20 percent, deaths from cancer declined 4 percent, and deaths from cardiovascular disease declined 38 percent — trends that contributed to Americans' average life expectancy rising to 78.8 years, a record.
"The challenge for the next twenty-five years is to achieve widespread, uniform success in fighting the chronic conditions that threaten Americans' quality of life and adversely affect our nation's healthcare system," said Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer and executive vice president of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. "Obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity rates are troublingly high. We must continue to promote positive health behaviors and help prevent the devastating consequences of chronic illnesses that are often left unchecked."