Hands down, Hawaii is one of the best places on Earth to live and visit. But, did you know it’s also a great place to stay healthy?
Hawaii claimed its spot as the healthiest state in the nation for the third year in a row, according to America’s Health Rankings, released Wednesday by the United Health Foundation.
“Hawaii’s top ranking as the healthiest state in the nation once again this year is very encouraging and reminds us of how fortunate we are to live in the Aloha State,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement.
Here’s a look at the top 5 reasons Hawaii is consistently ranked as the healthiest place in the country:
1. Low Number of Poor Mental Health Days: Poor mental health days can be defined as the number of days in the past 30 days that adults have self-reported their mental health was not good. Hawaii came in number one in this category with an average of 2.7 days, as opposed to the national average of 3.7 days. Hawaii tied South Dakota for the number one ranking. The state with the highest number of poor mental health days? Tennessee which came in at 4.8 days.
2. Low Obesity Rates: According to the United Health Foundation, obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 percent or more. Hawaii ranked second in this category, just behind Colorado. Hawaii’s obesity rate is 22.1 percent of the population, whereas the U.S. average is about 30 percent. West Virginia, Mississippi, and Arkansas all came in at more than 35 percent.
3. Low Rates of Preventable Hospitalizations: Even though Hawaii is home to a large number of seniors, the state still came in number one for its low rate of preventable hospitalizations. Hawaii had 24.4 preventable hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, compared to 57.6 nationally. Kentucky and West Virginia reported more than 80 preventable hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
4. Low Smoking Rates: Hawaii came in third in the smoking category, which counted the percentage of adults who are smokers (self-report smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke), just behind Utah (#1) and California (#2). Hawaii reported 14.1 percent, compared to 18.1 percent nationally. West Virginia came in last and reported 26.7 percent.
5. Low Rates of Physical Inactivity: Hawaii ranked 9th in this category, but still reported only 19.6 percent of adults here participate in no physical activity outside of their jobs. The national average was 22.6 percent. Colorado ranked first with 16.4 percent, and Mississippi ranked last with 31.6 percent.
6. Low Rates of Diabetes: Hawaii took a respectable 24th place, when it comes to adult diabetes rates. The national rate is10 percent, with a low of 7.1 percent in Colorado, and a high of 14.1 percent in West Virginia.
When you visit Hawaii, you won’t be surprised by the state’s top ranking. When you book your vacation through Hawaii Aloha Travel, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in a myriad of healthy, outdoor activities such as the Aloha Plate Tour, Parasailing, and Snorkling, to name just a few.
In the past 26 years, Hawaii health has been consistently excellent and the state has ranked among the top six healthiest states in the nation, but the islands still face a number of challenges that include a high prevalence of excessive drinking, high incidence of salmonella and low immunization among adolescents for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
“Even with this ranking, we cannot afford to be complacent and we must continue to invest in our public health efforts to ensure access to care and strengthen prevention measures,” Ige said.
And, these comprehensive measures show Hawaii is doing a good job ensuring the good health of its residents.
“For the last 26 years, the America’s Health Rankings annual report has provided a comprehensive picture of the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaii’s health, and where we stand against our peer states and the nation at large,” said Ron Fujimoto, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare. “We look forward to using this year’s report to continue identifying best practices that address Hawaii’s most pressing health challenges and encourage our residents to lead the healthiest lives possible.”
Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, added that while Hawaii health ranks No. 1, there is a disparity in chronic diseases among different ethnic groups within the community.
“We need to remember that we are being compared to a nation that has been transformed over the last three decades with rising obesity and chronic disease rates,” she said. “We need to diligently increase collaboration that will achieve optimal health equity for all people in Hawaii.”
Despite the challenges, Hawaii consistently delivers as one of the country’s healthiest states and, often, takes first place. So, just in case you needed another reason to visit our island paradise, come here for the health benefits too!