Health Gains and Losses Reported in 2016 America's Health Rankings

Izzy Okparanta

Smoking rates, the number of uninsured Americans, and preventable hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries are all down, according to United Heath Foundation’s latest America’s Health Rankings report. But those gains are undercut by a sharp rise in obesity and deaths from drug- and cardiovascular-related ailments.

The 2016 report shows a 9% increase in drug deaths over the past five years, and a 4% increase in drug deaths over the past year alone nationwide. This is in part attributed to a growing opioid epidemic that lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle hope to stem with $500 million in funds from the new 21st Century Cures Act.

Cardiovascular deaths also increased, for the first time in the report’s 27-year history, from 250.8 to 251.7 deaths per 100,000, and adult obesity rates increased by 157%.

The report comes as the National Center for Health Statistics announces a dip in life expectancy among Americans for the first time in decades.

“We have made important strides across the country against public health challenges; however, we are at a crossroads between a healthier future as a nation and a future in which troubling public health measurements become increasingly common,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., external senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “Of particular concern is the first-time rise in cardiovascular deaths, despite all the medical advances in this area.”

The report ranked Hawaii as the healthiest state for the fifth straight year, while Mississippi replaced Louisiana as the least healthy state.

To read the full report, visit

Izzy Okparanta is the Senior Communications Specialist at Research!America.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Adds node titles to internal links found in content (as HTML "title" attribute).
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana