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America’s Health Rankings® Reveals Alaska Ranks No. 28 Compared to the Overall Health of Other States

· Overall U.S. health improved in the past year, slightly faster than the past decade, but at a slower rate than in the 1990s

· New grants for public-private partnerships will stimulate local solutions to priority health problems

ANCHORAGE (Dec. 7, 2010) – Welcome improvements in many areas of America’s health status are offset by continuing declines in others, according to the 2010 America’s Heath Rankings®. The nation’s overall health improved one percentage point last year, but reductions in smoking, preventable hospitalizations and infectious disease were offset by continued increases in obesity, children in poverty, and lack of health insurance. The report also shows a 19 percent increase since the 2005 Edition in the percentage of adults who had been diagnosed with diabetes. In response to these trends, United Health Foundation is establishing a program to address local health challenges.

While last year’s one percent improvement in health is better than the previous decade, it falls short of the gains seen in the 1990s. From 2000-2009, health improved just 0.5 percent per year, but in the 1990s, overall health improved 1.5 percent per year, suggesting that the nation is capable of achieving better health more rapidly than it currently is. Given the sharp escalation in health costs, the economic consequences of larger burdens of preventable chronic illness should sound an alarm for urgent action by states and local communities.

“The rate of gain, while positive, is wholly inadequate for us as a nation. We know with certainty that many people will suffer consequences of preventable disease unless we strengthen individual healthiness, community by community across America,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., United Health Foundation board member and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “States can use America’s Health Rankings to identify their state’s and other states’ strengths and use those examples to address areas that need attention in their own state. The key is action. We must continue to work toward impacting change in unhealthy behaviors and other factors that negatively impact a state.”

Alaska’s Health Check-Up

According to the 21st Edition of America’s Health Rankings®, Alaska is No. 28 this year compared to No. 33 in 2009 when compared to the health of other states

Alaska’s Strengths

· High public health funding at $189 per person

· Low levels of air pollution at 7.3 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter

· Low rate of death from cardiovascular disease at 231.8 deaths per 100,000 population

Alaska’s Challenges

· High rate of uninsured population at 18.8 percent

· High violent crime rate at 633 offenses per 100,000 population

· Low immunization coverage with 85.9 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving immunizations

Overall State Rankings: Vermont Remains on Top; Mississippi Stays on Bottom

Every state has its successes and every state has its challenges. Vermont tops the list of healthiest states for the last four years of published reports. Vermont has had a steady climb in the Rankings for the last twelve years from a ranking of 17th in the 1997 and 1998 Editions. Massachusetts is ranked second, an improvement from third last year. Massachusetts has ranked in the top ten for almost 20 years. New Hampshire is ranked third, followed by Connecticut and Hawaii.

Mississippi is ranked 50th, with Louisiana, Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma rounding out the bottom five.

Georgia has improved the most in the past year from 43rd to 36th, and Idaho (14th to 9th), Nebraska (16th to 11th) and South Carolina (46th to 41st) all improved by five rank positions. Alabama also has climbed the ladder from 48th to 45th.

Individual state success stories since the first edition in 1990 include:

· Maryland decreased the prevalence of smoking from 29.7 percent to 15.1 percent of the population.

· Louisiana decreased the percentage of children in poverty from 38.5 to 19.5 percent of persons under age 18.

· Washington decreased infant mortality from 9.7 to 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

· Vermont decreased cardiovascular deaths from 401.7 to 241.1 per 100,000 population.

These successes indicate that change is possible for all states when there is a united front to make progress on health outcomes.

United Health Foundation Providing Help

The United Health Foundation believes that these health challenges can best be addressed through public-private partnerships at the state and local level. The United Health Foundation is partnering with the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) to convene business, public health, community leaders, and elected and public officials in selected communities across the U.S. to initiate data-driven health promotion and disease prevention planning. Grants will be awarded to help each community create an action plan for policy and program interventions that draw upon individual accountability, community resources and private sector expertise.

United Health Foundation will also collaborate with Partnership for Prevention to identify and disseminate scientific-based public policies that can be useful for states to consider as they address their particular population health challenges.

The website, americashealthrankings.org, has been enhanced to better serve as a research tool and rich database for use by individuals, political leaders, health professionals and policy analysts.

Join a live webcast of the event, America’s Health Rankings 2010: All Health is Local – How States Can Make a Healthier Nation, by visiting www.mobilevideo.net/AHR2010/ on Dec. 7 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST.

About America’s Health Rankings®

America’s Health Rankings® is the longest running report of its kind. For 21 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socio-economic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars. For more information, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

About the United Health Foundation

Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities.

The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $176 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

About the American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and has been working to improve public health since 1872. The Association aims to protect all Americans, their families and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health professionals and others who care about their own health and the health of their communities. More information is available at www.apha.org.

About Partnership for Prevention

Partnership is a national non-profit membership organization comprised of leaders in the business community, non-profit organizations and local and state government advancing evidence-based prevention in policies and practices. The organization seeks to create a “prevention culture” in America, where the prevention of disease and the promotion of health, based on the best scientific evidence, is the first priority for policy makers, decision-makers and healthcare practitioners who can make a difference in this area.

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