Friday, November 27, 2015         

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Hawaii's overall health among best in nation

By Rosemarie Bernardo


Hawaii was ranked No. 5 in the nation in overall health due principally to low rates for the uninsured and for deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to a recent report.

How hawaii measures up

The state's national ranking by category and change from 2009
» Air pollution: No. 4, down from No. 1
» Cancer deaths: No. 2, no change
» Cardiovascular deaths: No. 2, no change
» Children in poverty: No. 26, down from No. 13
» Health insurance: No. 2, no change.
» High school graduation: No. 30, down from No. 29
» Immunizations: No. 44, down from No. 32
» Infant mortality: No. 14, down from No. 13
» Infectious disease: No. 40, down from No. 36
» Low prevalence of obesity: No. 4, up from No. 5
» Low prevalence of smoking: No. 7, down from No. 5
» Low prevalence of binge drinking: No. 35, up from No. 43
» Occupational fatalities: No. 22, no change
» Primary care physicians per 100,000 population: No. 7, no change
Source: America's Health Ranking
The 2010 America's Health Ranking placed Vermont atop the list in overall health, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Hawaii. The five states that ranked at the bottom were Oklahoma, Nevada, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi at No. 50.

Last year, Hawaii was initially ranked No. 4, but after the United Health Foundation received updated information its ranking dropped to No. 5, where it remains in the latest report.

"With each edition, the prior edition's results are updated to accommodate data revisions made by the suppliers of the data and to align the components for better year-to-year comparison," said Tom Eckstein of Arundel Street Consulting Inc.

According to the report, the uninsured population in Hawaii was at 8 percent. The death rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease were at 159 deaths and 220 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively.

Keith Ridley, acting director of the Department of Health, said, "Certainly, we're always looking toward the future and always want to make it better."

Strong public funding at $235 per person also contributed to the state's high ranking. Experts also noted the lower prevalence of obesity at 22.9 percent of the population and a low prevalence of smoking at 15.3 percent of the population.

Ridley said the smoke-free workplace law that took effect in 2006 and ongoing television advertisements have helped reduce smoking in the state.

Experts indicated the following significant changes in Hawaii:

» The percent of children in poverty almost doubled from 9.6 percent to 18.9 percent of persons under age 18 in the past five years.

» The prevalence of obesity increased to 22.9 percent from 15.7 percent of the population in the past decade.

» The prevalence of smoking decreased to 15.3 percent from 27.6 percent of the population since 1990.

One of the challenges the state continues to face is its low immunization coverage for children. According to the report, 86.1 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receive immunizations. Additional challenges include a high prevalence of binge drinking at 17.3 percent of the population and a high incidence of infectious disease at 17.9 cases per 100,000 population.


On the Net:

» For more information, go to the America's Health Rankings website at

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