Every year the United Health Foundation does a report on America’s Health Rankings. This report is the longest-running annual review of the country’s health on a state-by-state basis.
The America’s Health Rankings model includes four drivers, or determinants of health: social & economic factors, physical environment, clinical care and behaviors, all of which influence the fifth model category, health outcomes. I wanted to focus on mainly the health outcomes, but you can find the full report here: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/
The report found that exercise varies across states and by gender, age, education, income as well as race and ethnicity. The largest differences in the prevalence of exercise were by education, geography and income (see figure below).
Exercise was higher among adults with a household income of $75,000 or more (27.9%) than those with an income less than $25,000 (15.9%), ages 25.
In 2019, the prevalence of exercise among adults was highest in Vermont (28.5%), Montana (28.3%) and Colorado (27.4%). It was lowest in Kentucky (15.3%), Oklahoma (15.6%) and Mississippi (15.7%).
This exercise figure, 15.3% – or 1 in about 6.5 Kentuckians – is based on adults getting either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Overall, my home state of Kentucky ranked 44th overall in America’s Health Rankings 2020 Annual Report.
The report listed challenges for Kentucky to be:
- High prevalence of multiple chronic conditions (ranking 49th in % of adults)
- High premature death rate (raking 47th in years lost before the age of 75)
- High prevalence of cigarette smoking (raking 49th in % of adult smokers)
Multiple chronic conditions is defined as having three or more of the following: arthritis, asthma, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and diabetes. Chart below shows percent of adults in Kentucky with these conditions.
The annual report found that 15.1 % of Kentuckians have more than one chronic condition, compared to 9.5% of the country. Only West Virginia at 20% was higher. In addition, 41.1% of the state’s residents reported sleeping less than seven hours a day.
Kentucky ranks 45th in % of obese adults, 46th in % of adults with high blood pressure and 49th in % of adults with high cholesterol.
This year’s report found that between 2011 and 2019, obesity rates in the United States increased 15% nationally from 27.8% to 31.9% of adults, affecting nearly 70.4 million adults — a new high for a measure that has long been a challenge for Americans. Obesity has increased among all sub-population groups during this same time period, including gender, age, education, income as well as race and ethnicity.
The 2020 report finds that Kentucky ranks last among the 50 states in fruit and vegetable consumption. The study found that only 4.7% of Kentuckians consume two or more fruits and three or more vegetables daily. The U.S. average was 8%, with Vermont leading the way with 14.1% of its residents meeting the metric.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Kentucky lost more than 10,000 years of potential life. That’s based on people dying before age 75 per 100,000 people. Only Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia lost more years.
Some other stats from Kentucky are below (these are changes over the past year):
So while this is got good news, the first step toward change is to acknowledge and understand the need for change. I can’t imagine that anyone reading this report doesn’t agree that things need to change in Kentucky.
While it is my nature to see that something needs fixing and quickly jump to a solution. What I am trying to do instead is try to understand why we are in the current situation. Improving these numbers in Kentucky will require lots of people to developing a shared understanding of the situation. We have to be sure that any solution addresses the complexity of the problem.
You would think that a gobal pandemic where the chronic conditions metioned above lead to an increased risk for severe illness (defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death) would lead people to really evaluate their health! Maybe it has/will.
My goal with this website and my Holistic Athlete brand is to try and be part of the solution and help get people healthier. I would love to hear ideas on how to get more people invested in their personal health.
Be sure and visit all of my sponsor’s websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.
Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,