December 6, 2011
JOHNSON CITY Tennessee leapt forward today in the annual rankings that gauge the health of all 50 states, moving up to No. 39 to give the Volunteer State its highest ranking ever.
Americas Health Rankings have been compiled and released annually by the United Health Foundation since 1990, and prior to 2011, Tennessee never claimed a ranking higher than No. 42. This years placement at 39th continues a steady upward trend. Five years ago, Tennessee had a ranking of 48th.
As dean of the East Tennessee State
University College of Public Health, Dr. Randy Wykoff anxiously
awaits this list each year. The college makes button pins when the
rankings are released, with a slash through the number to
illustrate the desire for upward movement.
I have never lived in a
place that is as focused on better health as our state,
Wykoff said. From the Governors Health and Wellness
Task Force at the state level to the innumerable localefforts
in communities such as ours, Tennessee is seeing
real improvements based on
We recognize that these advances
in health statistics reflect important efforts to emphasize
education, reduce poverty and provide access to affordable health
To assess an overall ranking,
Americas Health Rankings track over
20 categories across the public health spectrum, ranging from
numbers of cancer deaths to primary care physicians per capita.
Tennessee gets high marks in some areas.
For example, Tennesseans have the lowest rate of binge drinking in
the nation. The state is also strong in the rate of childhood
immunizations (eighth), frequency of poor mental health days
(11th), geographic disparity (14th), primary care physicians per
capita (18th) and public health funding (22nd).
The state scores low in such things as
violent crime at 47th, its worst ranking and also
preventable hospitalizations, diabetes and cancer deaths, all
coming in at No. 46. In rates of cardiovascular death and premature
death, Tennessee is 44th.
The College of Public Health gives away
more than 1,000 of the buttons every year. Wykoff said that when
Tennessee reaches a ranking of 20th, hell drop the slash.
One of the reasons that we do the annual pin campaign is to remind people that these numbers can change, Wykoff said. These numbers reflect things that we as individuals, as families and as communities really can influence.
The complete rankings are available at www.americashealthrankings.org.