While there have been many improvements in American health in recent years, there are also serious challenges, and some states are doing better than others when it comes to healthy living.
The divide between healthy and unhealthy states is apparent in the recently released health rankings report, issued every year for the past 27 years, by the United Health Foundation.
The report contains plenty of good news, such as the continued decline in smoking and preventable hospitalizations, and the falling number of uninsured Americans. Preventable hospitalizations have fallen by more than a third over the past decade, including a 13 percent decline last year.
However, report also highlights worrisome growth in other health issues, such as rising rates of obesity and cardiovascular and drug-related deaths.
For the fifth year in a row, Hawaii ranks as the nation's healthiest state. On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi fell from 49th to 50th on the list, swapping spots with Louisiana to become the unhealthiest state in America.
As the report states, "Mississippi's challenges include a high prevalence of smoking and low birthweight, and a high percentage of children in poverty. Mississippi ranks in the bottom 10 for 25 measures, including ranking in the bottom three for all measures of clinical care."
Overall in the U.S., drug deaths stand out as one of the largest public health challenges. The rate of drug deaths has increased by 9 percent over the past five years, growing 4 percent last year alone.
The data used in the report comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, the World Health Organization, and other reputable sources. Analysts looked at nearly three dozen variables, ranging from rates of physical activity to air pollution levels.