Foundation Ranks States by Healthiness Score

United Health Foundation a not-for-profit, private foundation established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) for the purpose of improving health and healthcare, has released the results of its 27th America’s Health Rankings Annual Report.

The fifty states are ranked based on various statistical measures within four basic categories: Behaviors, Community/Environment, Policy and Clinical Care, and the outcomes resulting from them. According to this year’s report, Hawaii came in at first place, with Mississippi receiving the lowest ranking.

Here’s how Missouri and Kansas scored:

Kansas ranked 27 out of 50, with the state’s strengths being cited as low prevalence of frequent mental distress, frequent physical distress and low birth weight. The report went on to say that Kansas is challenged by a high prevalence of obesity, low per capita public health funding and low immunization coverage among teens

Missouri came in at 37 out of 50, with its strength being, a high percentage of high school graduation, low percentage of children in poverty and little disparity in health status by educational attainment. The state’s challenges are, a high prevalence of smoking, a lower number of dentists and a high prevalence of frequent physical distress.

The United States as a whole noted improvements as well as some disturbing trends. On the positive side, Adult smoking has decreased 41 percent since 1990, preventable hospitalizations have declined by 35 percent over the past decade, and the number of uninsured Americans is the lowest it has been in the reports 27 years.

Challenges threatening to negate those positives include: an increase in the rate of cardio-vascular deaths (the first increase in the report’s history), a 9 percent increase in drug deaths over the past five years, and an increase in the premature death rate for the second consecutive year.