America’s Health: State Health Rankings — 2004
The United Health Foundation, in partnership with the American
Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention, recently
released state health rankings for 2004. To print a complete copy of the report
(122 pages) go to:
The report has been published every year since 1990.
In order for you to interpret findings from the report I’ve summarized
below, I’m listing a description for some of the risk factors and outcomes:
- # of AIDS, tuberculosis
and hepatitis cases reported to CDC per 100,000 population.
Cardiovascular deaths - # deaths due to all cardiovascular diseases,
including heart disease and stroke, per 100,000 population.
Prevalence of obesity - % of population estimated to have a body mass
index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher.
Limited activity days - # of days in the previous 30 days a person
indicated limited activities due to physical or mental difficulties.
Occupational fatalities - # of fatalities from occupational injuries
per 100,000 workers.
- The report begins with the World Health Organization’s definition of
heath as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The introduction
goes on to say that healthy outcome goals should include "a long,
disease-free and robust life for all individuals regardless of race, sex, or
socio-economic status." When it comes to years of potential life lost
before age 75, Asians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and whites are below the
national average, but blacks and American Indians are above the national
average. Men on average have a life expectancy of six years less than women.
Rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes are higher in rural areas.
- The introduction of the report goes on to state that our "individual
genetic predisposition to disease" is impacted by the interactions of
three areas: 1) our personal behaviors, 2) the environment of the community
in which we live, and 3) the policies and practices of our health care and
prevention systems. The report attempts to report on markers from all three
- Wyoming ranked 28th out of the 50 states for a composite score.
Of the 18 areas appraised, Wyoming ranked worse than the national average in
ten areas, and better than the national average in eight areas. Wyoming
ranked in the best ten states in four areas: cases of infectious disease (8th),
cardiovascular deaths (9th), prevalence of obesity (10th)
and limited activity days (10th).
- Wyoming’s worst ranking (46th) came in occupational
fatalities. Wyoming tied for the 46th and worst position with
four other states (Mississippi, South Dakota, Montana and Alaska). Only
Alaska had more deaths per 100,000 workers (15.3 compared to Wyoming’s
13.4). Wyoming reported an increase in infant mortality rate from 6.3 deaths
per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004.
The state’s ranking for infant mortality rate was 15th in 2003
and dropped to 34th in 2004.
- Prevalence of smoking in the Wyoming population over age 18 increased from
23.7% in 2003 to 24.6% in 2004. The 2004 rate was still significantly below
the 1990 rate of 31.7%. The national percentage of adult smokers was 22% in
2004, compared to 30% in 1990.
- The report is a "call to action for people and their
communities." In the foreword for the report, the three leaders of the
organizations sponsoring the study stated the report convinced them more
than ever of the importance of 1) individuals making responsible choices
(not smoking, eating properly, exercising regularly), and 2) community
leaders and public officials implementing health policies and programs that
"result in environments conducive to optimal health promotion and
Source: United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and
Partnership for Prevention. America’s Health: State Health Rankings —
2004 Edition, ©2004 United Health Foundation, Nov. 2004.
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
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