Colorado falls in list of healthiest states, still makes top 10

(CNN) - Colorado was the 8th healthiest state in America in 2018, according to a new report by the United Health Foundation. It fell from seventh place in 2017. The annual America’s Health Rankings report was released in December 2018.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Utah are the five healthiest states of the year, while the five least healthy are Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and, coming in last, Louisiana.

The report has been conducted annually for the past 29 years.

Click here for the annual report.

Highlights from Colorado.

According to the report, the state’s strengths include low prevalence of obesity, low cancer death rate and low percentage of children in poverty. Our challenges include low birthweights, low percentage of high school graduation, and whooping cough.

In Colorado in the past year, smoking decreased 6 percent and mental health providers increased 8 percent. In the past three years Chlamydia has increased 19 percent. In the past five years children in poverty decreased 35 percent.

Click here for more specific details on Colorado.

How the report is made.

"The report provides a benchmark of how the health of each state's population has changed year over year, by comparison to other states, and insights into challenges and successes,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare National Markets and a senior adviser to the America's Health Rankings report.

To create the rankings, the report takes into account 35 health factors and examines them by state.

Those 35 measures fall into categories: "the behaviors that we are choosing in our lifestyle; the community and environment where we live; the public policy that happens at a state level; and the clinical care that we receive when we go to the doctor and the hospital ultimately influence the outcomes around our health," Randall said.

Obesity is a national problem.

The data in the report also provided a snapshot of the nation's overall health, which Randall said revealed both concerning and encouraging trends.

"Starting with the thing that concerned us the most, obesity has hit an all-time high. The obesity rate in America for the adult population, for the first time in the history of producing this report, is up 5% in the past year. It hit 31.3% for 2018," Randall said.

In other words, nearly one in three US adults is obese.

Obesity rates also appeared to be high in many of the states ranked as least healthy. For instance, the prevalence of obesity in West Virginia is 38.1%, nearly double the prevalence in Colorado, where it is 22.6%, according to the report.

"Another thing that concerns us that we found in this report was that premature death increased 3% in the past year. That means years of life lost before people are reaching the age of 75," Randall said.

"That often has correlation with a number of factors -- things like our lifestyle choices, living with more chronic diseases," she said. "We also know that the suicide rate has increased as well, and that would contribute to the increase in premature death rate, along with other causes."

The report measured the suicide rate as the number of deaths due to intentional self-harm per 100,000 deaths recorded on death certificates, and the data showed that America's suicide rate has increased 16% since 2012.

Positive findings

The report wasn't all doom and gloom; it also had some positive findings.

"Childhood poverty has decreased," Randall said.

"That's a key indicator of somebody's socioeconomic status and a good predictor of how their overall health is going to be for the rest of their life. That childhood poverty measure decreased 6% since the prior year," she said.

"We're also seeing there are more mental health providers available than in prior years," she said. "That measure looks at mental health providers of all degrees, so it looks at psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health professionals, marriage and family therapists as examples, and so that number has increased nationally."