Connecticut drops in health rankings for 2015

By Reece Alvarez

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Connecticut residents were a little less healthy in 2015 than they were in 2014, but still remain among the healthiest states in the nation, according to a recent annual state-by-state health report released by the United Health Foundation.

Published for the last 26 years in partnership with the American Public Health Association, America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, revealed that in 2015 Connecticut ranked as the sixth healthiest state in that nation, dropping from fourth place in 2014.

The report cites a number of positive health trends in the state including high immunization among adolescents for tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis,  low incidence of infectious disease and low premature death rate.

However, in the past year, drug deaths increased 19 percent from 11.0 to 13.1 per 100,000 population — a statistic that is also on the rise nationwide.

According to the report  drug deaths – including deaths from illegal drug use and prescription drug abuse – jumped 4 percent nationwide over the last year, from 13 to 13.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Connecticut also faces challenges from a large disparity in health status by education level, high prevalence of excessive drinking and low per capita public health funding, the report states.

“This year’s America’s Health Rankings Annual Report reveals many encouraging gains in our nation’s health while showing clearly there is much more we as a country must do to maximize our health potential,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “This report is a call to action to make disease prevention a key component of our culture.”

The top five healthiest states, in order, are Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Connecticut ranks just above Utah, Colorado and Nebraska, respectively.

Connecticut fared favorably compared to national averages across key health categories such as rates of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity:

  • In Connecticut, 15.4 percent of people smoke compared with 18.1 percent nationally.
  • Obesity among Connecticut adults is at 26.3 percent and 9.2 percent of adults have diabetes compared with 29.6 percent and 10 percent of adults nationally.
  • More than one in five (20.6 percent) of Connecticut adults are considered physically inactive compared with 22.6 percent nationally.

Lifestyle choices are a particular concern across that nation, said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions.

“Too many Americans today are developing chronic illnesses due to their lifestyle choices. The nation can and must work together to fight obesity, diabetes and other serious chronic conditions, and to amplify support for the nation’s most vulnerable populations through innovative community-based programs and solutions,” she said.

To view the full health report visit AmericasHealthRankings.org.

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