Health, quality of life varies widely across U.S.

Americans’ health and quality of life varies significantly from state to state, driven largely by factors such as obesity, substance abuse, and depression, according to a new report from the Global Burden of Disease group, an international consortium.

The geographic disparities “leave the United States far from being united,” wrote Howard Koh of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Anand Parekh of the Washington, D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center in an April 10, 2018 JAMA editorial that accompanied the report.

The report found that life expectancy ranged from a high of 81.3 years in Hawaii to a low of 74.7 years in Mississippi. Other states with high life expectancies included California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, New Jersey, and Washington; states with low life expectancies included Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia. Self-harm, opioid use disorders, and alcohol-related liver diseases all contributed to increasing adult mortality rates in 21 states.

Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at Harvard Chan School, and Parekh urged policymakers to use the new report “to reconsider the current dismal national stance toward disease prevention.”

Read a Los Angeles Times article: What ails America? The answer varies from state to state