Maui News

Hawaiʻi Ranks Second in Nation for Health

December 11, 2012, 9:31 AM HST
* Updated December 11, 9:32 AM
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Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Hawaiʻi was ranked as the second healthiest state in the nation behind Vermont in an index released today by the Trust for America’s Health.

Hawaiʻi moved ahead of two other states this year, up from its fourth place ranking in 2011.

“This year’s improved ranking is encouraging and reflects the efforts of Governor Abercrombie and the work of the department to improve the health of our state,” said Hawaiʻi Health Director Loretta Fuddy.

“The state has taken many positive steps in the last year, but chronic disease and obesity are still major growing concerns, especially when it comes to our children. We must turn the tide on these issues for our next generation,” said Fuddy.

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The report noted that while Hawaiʻi has one of the lowest obesity rates in the nation, there are still roughly 234,000 obese adults in the state.

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On a high note was an improved infant mortality rate, that went from 7.6 to 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.   The report also states that there was a decrease in preventable hospitalizations from 32.2 to 25.0 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.

According to the report, roughly 90,000 adults in Hawaii are living with diabetes.  State officials say that while the prevalence of diabetes in Hawaii is below the national median at 8.4%, the state’s climbing rate reflects the troubling nationwide trend of increasing chronic disease.

Additional areas of high concern for the state include the rate of health disparities among ethnicities and rural areas. State health officials say this includes higher rates of tobacco use and obesity among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

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“Hawaiʻi’s positive ranking is encouraging, but there are areas that will require our continued attention as we work collaboratively with our partners in the healthcare industry and the federal government toward the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act,” said Beth Giesting, Hawaiʻi’s Healthcare Transformation Coordinator.

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