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For nearly 3 decades, the America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report has become established as the nation’s annual checkup. The results often cause conversations to begin or renew. Individuals, elected officials, health care professionals, public health professionals, employers, educators, and communities analyze and react to the Rankings with questions that fall under the category of: “How can we improve our population’s health?” The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report serves public health by:
  1. Providing a benchmark. The report is vital for gauging how a state’s health changes from year to year and decade to decade, and how it compares with the health of other states and the nation. This is the longest-running annual assessment of America’s health on a state-by-state basis. The data for many measures extend back to 1990, allowing for a wide-angle, holistic view of state and US health.
  2. Stimulating action. This is the overarching purpose of every Annual Report—to kindle and continue to fuel dialogue that leads to action. Numerous states incorporate the Rankings into their annual review of programs, and several organizations use the report as a reference point when assigning goals for health improvement programs.

Each measure does not stand alone but influences and interconnects with many other factors that make up health.

The 2015 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report highlights some promising progress in important markers of our nation’s public health. Cigarette use continues to fall, immunization rates continue to rise, and there are long-term positive trends in reducing cardiovascular-related and infant deaths. At the same time, our nation continues to struggle with certain complex and deep-seated health concerns: obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, and child poverty. The 2015 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report includes rich data beyond the “headlines” of the state rankings. Specifically, every state has strengths and challenges to examine and act upon. Consider that the metrics are interrelated—that is, each measure does not stand alone but influences and interconnects with many other factors that make up health. For example, a change for the good in physical inactivity could affect obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular deaths, poor mental health days, and other measures. To see this data illustrated, please explore your state of interest.
The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report is a snapshot in an ever-changing view of state health. The data can be used to investigate why a state fell or rose in the rankings and, most important, to develop actions to take to make a community or state healthier. Searching for answers will lead to advocacy, to taking steps to implement—and perhaps create—programs that positively affect health in every state.

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