Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? Core health measures

The United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings for the year 2015 were recently released, providing an insightful look into the unhealthy habits of Americans, such as smoking, drinking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Smoking

  • The leading cause of preventable death in the United States (480,000 deaths per year).
  • Secondhand smoke causes 41,000 deaths yearly.
  • 10.9 million people suffer from a smoking-related illness.
  • About 14 million major medical conditions are attributed to smoking, including respiratory disease, heart disease, stroke, cancer, preterm birth, low birth weight, and premature death.
  • Smoking shortens lifespan by 10 years on average.
  • The US annual smoking cost is $170 billion in direct medical expenses and $156 billion in lost productivity.
  • When smokers quit, heart attack risk considerably lowers after just 1 year.

Smoking by state

Percentage of adults who are self-reported smokers

Top 5

Bottom 5

Utah

9.7%

West Virginia

26.7%

California

12.8%

Kentucky

26.2%

Hawaii

14.1%

Arkansas

24.7%

New York

14.4%

Tennessee

24.2%

Texas

14.5%

Louisiana

24%

 

Quitting

  • Set a quit date.
  • Medication.
  • Nicotine patch.
  • Nicotine Anonymous.
  • Remove ash trays.
  • Support network.
  • Counseling.
  • Avoid triggers.
  • Manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Favor smokeless settings.
  • Patience.

Excessive Drinking

  • Includes binge and chronic drinking.
  • It can lead to fetal damage, liver diseases, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and other major health problems.
  • An yearly average of 87,798 alcohol-attributable deaths, 2.5 million years of potential life lost, and an average of 12,460 motor vehicle traffic crashes were due to excessive drinking from 2006-2010.
  • Excessive alcohol use cost states a median of $3.5 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per state per alcoholic beverage consumed.
  • Costs were from workplace-productivity losses, increased health care and criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crashes, and property damage.

Excessive drinking by state

Percentage of adults who self-report either binge drinking or chronic drinking

Top 5

Bottom 5

West Virginia

10.3%

North Dakota

25%

Tennessee

11.6%

Wisconsin

23.3%

Utah

12.1%

Iowa

22.3%

Alabama

13.3%

Alaska

21.7%

Oklahoma

13.5%

Nebraska

21.4%

 

Quitting

  • Moderation.
  • Set goals.
  • Accountability.
  • Name a driver.
  • Ask for help.
  • Admit that you have a problem.
  • Talk with loved ones.
  • Find a support network.
  • Make a plan.
  • Don’t keep alcohol at home.
  • Recognize triggers.
  • Slow the pace.
  • Exercise.
  • Find productive ways to handle stress.
  • Fill time with healthy activities.
  • Drink water between alcoholic beverages.
  • Set limits.
  • Drive sober.
  • Establish drinking rules.
  • Never drink alone.
  • Reward yourself for sobriety.
  • Avoid heavy drinkers.

Drug deaths

  • The nation’s leading cause of injury death.
  • Drug deaths increased in the past 20 years.
  • Approximately 24.6 million Americans over age 12 in 2013 used an illicit drug in the previous month, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and misused prescription drugs.
  • Total estimated cost of illicit drug use on the US economy is $193 billion.
  • After marijuana, prescription drugs are the second-most abused substance.
  • Painkillers prescribed and overdose deaths quadrupled from 1999 to 2013.
  • Annual prescription opioid abuse costs reached upwards of $55 billion in 2007 due to work-productivity losses, health care costs, drug treatment, and criminal justice expenses.

Drug deaths by state

Number of deaths due to drug injury of any intent per 100,000 population

Top 5

Bottom 5

North Dakota

2.7

West Virginia

32.4

South Dakota

6.4

New Mexico

24.4

Nebraska

7.3

Kentucky

24

Iowa

8.7

Nevada

22.4

Minnesota

9.4

Utah

21.9

 

Quitting

  • Keep prescription drugs in a secure place.
  • Early intervention.
  • Positive parenting.
  • Family bonding.
  • Communication.
  • Talk to your children.
  • Enforcement.
  • Support those in recovery.
  • Education.
  • Self-control.
  • Peer relationships.
  • Naloxone.
  • Parental monitoring.
  • Seek treatment.
  • Proper medication disposal.
  • Discipline.

Obesity

  • Almost one-third of US adults are obese.
  • Obesity contributes to an estimated 200,000 deaths a year and is a leading factor in such preventable conditions as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, hypertension, liver disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, respiratory conditions, and osteoarthritis.
  • An estimated $190.2 billion is spent on obesity-related health issues each year, representing 21% of annual medical spending.
  • Obese adults spend on average 42% more on healthcare than healthy-weight adults.
  • Obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption contribute similarly to chronic conditions and overall poor health.

Obesity by state

Percentage of adults who are obese by self-report, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher

Top 5

Bottom 5

Colorado

21.3%

Arkansas

35.9%

Hawaii

22.1%

West Virginia

35.7%

Massachusetts

23.3%

Mississippi

35.5%

California

24.7%

Louisiana

34.9%

Vermont

24.8%

Alabama

33.5%

 

Keeping a healthy weight

  • Increase physical activity.
  • Develop a support network.
  • Stick to a healthy weight plan.
  • Maintain nutrition.
  • Restrict calorie intake.
  • Weight loss surgery.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Cut down on carbohydrates.
  • Limit fast food.
  • Avoid food triggers.
  • Make recess count.
  • Limit sweets.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat vegetables.

Physical inactivity

  • Responsible for 1 in 10 deaths a year.
  • Increases risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, certain cancers, and premature death.
  • Only 21% of adults meet the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendation of at least 150 minutes of physical activity weekly.
  • Adults with higher education or those with higher incomes are more likely to be physically active than those with low education or low income.
  • Non-Hispanic white adults report more aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity than non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults.
  • Increasing – especially starting – physical activity can prevent and help manage chronic diseases.

Physical inactivity by state

Percentage of adults who self-report doing no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days

Top 5

Bottom 5

Colorado

16.4%

Mississippi

31.6%

Oregon

16.5%

Arkansas

30.7%

Utah

16.8%

Louisiana

29.5%

Washington

18.1%

West Virginia

28.7%

Idaho

18.7%

Oklahoma

28.3%

 

Becoming physically active

  • Ride an exercise bike.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Reduce time spent in front of the TV.
  • Jog.
  • Walk to school or work.
  • Join a fitness club.
  • Swim.
  • Run.
  • Do jumping jacks.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Do push-ups.
  • Tennis.
  • Golf.
  • Mall walk.
  • Rake leaves.

Related: Smoking rates fall but poor still at risk