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2013 rankings list Idaho 12th in ‘healthiest states’

Up from 19th place last year

Americans are making considerable progress in their overall health, and Iaho’s not doing so bad either, according to United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

Nationwide, Americans improved in a majority of the measures captured by the Rankings. The most notable gains came in key behavioral measures, including smoking, physical activity and obesity.

According to the 24th Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Idaho ranks 12th this year, compared with other states, marking a significant increase from the previous year when the state ranked 19th. The rankings are derived using a number of variables in core areas including high school graduation rates, violent crime activity, occupational fatalities, physical inactivity, obesity, drug death rates, binge drinking, smoking, availability of physicians, diabetes incidences, a number of infectious disease rates as well as other diseases, infant mortalities and mental/physical health statuses.

The 2013 report illustrates Idaho has its share of strengths and challenges. The strengths include low prevalence of smoking, low rate of preventable hospitalizations and low prevalence of low birth weight. Challenges include low immunization coverage among children and adolescents, limited availability of primary care physicians and a high incidence of pertussis infections.

While Idaho has one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation, close to 190,000 adults still smoke. More than 300,000 adults in Idaho are obese and more than 230,000 adults are physically inactive. In the past year, binge drinking decreased from 16.6 percent in adults to 14.1 percent.

“It’s good that Idaho rose in the rankings from 19 to 12, but does that mean we are better or other states are getting worse? Probably the latter, given Idaho health department staffing reductions, poor immunization rates, and shortage of primary care physicians,” stated Syringa Hospital CEO Joe Cladouhos. “Nevertheless, overall, Idaho looks like a healthy place to live!”

Last year, the high school graduation rate rose to 84 percent of incoming ninth grades who graduate in four years, the highest rate ever.

The infant mortality rate continues a four-year decline from 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births this year.

In the past 10 years, the rate of cardiovascular deaths decreased from 293.6 to 228.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

While Idaho’s overall rank is 12, its obesity rank is 18, smoking rate is seven and diabetes rank is 12.

While 54 percent of adults 25 and older with at least a high school education report their health is very good or excellent, only 24.8 percent with less than a high school education report their health is good.

Bordering states ranks are as follows: Washington, 14; Oregon, 13; California, 21; Nevada, 37; Utah, 6; Wyoming, 17; and Montana, 23. Hawaii has taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont, last year’s reported No. 1 state, is ranked second this year and has ranked among the top five states for the last decade. Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranks 50th this year, and Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46) complete the five least healthy states.

To see the rankings in full visit: www.americashealthrankings.org.

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