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The United Health Foundation is pleased to release the 2016 America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report. For 27 years, this report has provided data-driven insights and measurements to improve health across the country on a state-by-state basis. America’s Health Rankings serves as an actionable resource for public health professionals, elected officials, employers, individuals, and communities to identify needs for improving our population's health. America’s Health Rankings Annual Report serves the United States and, in particular, public health by:
  1. Providing a benchmark for states. As the longest-running annual assessment of America’s health on a state-by-state basis, this report is vital for gauging how each state’s health changes from year to year and decade to decade, and how each state compares with the health of other states and the nation overall. The data for many measures extend back to 1990 and are invaluable when forming a wide-angle, holistic view of state and US health. America’s Health Rankings Annual Report presents findings “from the front lines” of population health, revealing both encouraging and troubling trends over time.
  2. Stimulating action. This is the overarching purpose of the reportto be a catalyst for data-driven discussions on indicators that have the potential to improve health and drive positive change. Numerous states incorporate the report into their annual review of programs, and many organizations use the report as a reference point when assigning goals for health-improvement programs.
The 2016 edition of America’s Health Rankings Annual Report highlights promising progress in principal markers of our nation’s health. Examples: Smoking prevalence, the rate of preventable hospitalizations, and the percentage of the population without health insurance continue to fall. At the same time, problems are mixed in with progress. Our nation continues to struggle with certain stubborn health concerns--obesity and drug deaths. Premature deaths increased for the second consecutive year and the long-term trend of declining cardiovascular deaths has ended. Two of the most troubling health concerns, smoking and obesity, are examined in a special section of this year’s report. Smoking and Obesity: A Public Health Success and Challenge, takes a deeper dive into five-year trends in smoking and obesity prevalence and illustrates how changes in these markers are not shared uniformly across states and education levels.
When reading the 2016 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, it is important to read beyond the “headlines” of the rankings. Every state has strengths and challenges. Additionally, each measure does not stand alone but is a strand in the web of health and everyday life of Americans. Example: A change for the good in physical inactivity could affect obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular deaths, and other measures.
America’s Health Rankings Annual Report provides a continually evolving snapshot of health, yields important insights on how each state’s health changes over time, and--perhaps most importantly--enables action for making communities and states healthier.

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