The U.S. was making meaningful progress on vaccine uptake, chronic disease rates and other health measures before the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation also faced increasing rates of obesity and mental distress, according to the 2020 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report released this week. 

Created in partnership with APHA, the report by the United Health Foundation features 74 markers of health and is the longest-running annual state-by-state assessment of the nation’s health. This year’s report includes data that predates the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and, for the first time, does not assign overall state rankings.

“The America’s Health Rankings 2020 Annual Report paints a picture of the nation’s ongoing public health successes and challenges, as well as a deeper understanding of the nation’s health at the outset of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. 

Findings include:

  • Progress has been made on key health markers, including the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions driven largely by improvements in cardiovascular disease.
  • Between 2011 and 2019, obesity rates increased 15% nationally to a new high of 31.9% of adults.
  • Flu vaccinations increased significantly between 2018 and 2019 – although they fall far below the Healthy People 2030 target.
  • A growing number of Americans are facing frequent mental distress, even as the supply of mental health providers has increased in each state.
  • The suicide rate has increased 23% nationally since 2009, up 28% among females and 21% among males. 

This year’s annual report examines the impact that social, economic and environmental factors have on overall health. State summaries provide actionable, data-driven insights regarding the unique strengths and challenges each state faces.

“We hope this report inspires proactive solutions about effective ways to improve the health of everyone within our communities as we navigate the evolving pandemic and head into the next decade,” Benjamin said.

Along with the report, the America’s Health Rankings website features updated data, including several health measures identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as risk factors for more severe COVID-19 illness.