Win some, lose some. That's probably the best way to summarize America's Health Rankings report for 2015, which shows that while the U.S. is making progress on a number of health-related fronts, it still faces a number of stubborn challenges that are preventing the U.S. from achieving the types of life expectancies that other western countries enjoy. 

Drug deaths, obesity, diabetes and children living in poverty are all on the rise, muting the beneficial effect of declining smoking rates, a decrease in preventable hospitalizations and an increase in vaccinations among children. 

So let's start with the bad news: 

  • In the past two years, obesity increased from 27.6 percent to 29.6 percent of adults. 

  • 10 percent of the adult population reports having diabetes

  • Drug deaths are up 4 percent to 13.5 per 100,000 residents. 

  • Child poverty increased from 19.9 percent to 21.1 percent. 

And let's end with the good news: 

  • Only 18.1 percent of adults smoke, down from 19 percent last year. That's down from nearly 30 percent in 1990! 

  • Cardiovascular deaths are down 23 percent in the last decade. 

  • Infant mortality is down 41 percent since 1990, to six deaths per 1,000 live births. 

  • Despite the hype about anti-vaxxers, vaccine rates have increased from 68.4 percent to 71.6 percent in the past two years. Twenty years ago, the rate was still under 60 percent. 

  • Violent crime is down 51 percent in the past two decades. 

The report, which ranks the states based on health outcomes, shows that while there have been some changes, the South is still at the very bottom in most measurable ways. The bottom 10 states are all in the South, with Louisiana in dead-last. Every Deep South state — Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina — is in the bottom 10. 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.