Arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease, COPD, depression, and diabetes reach the highest recorded levels since the America’s Health Rankings Annual Report began tracking them in 1990.
The prevalence of eight chronic health conditions in the United States have increased to unprecedented levels, according to the United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings 2023 Annual Report. These eight conditions—arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression and diabetes—reached the highest recorded levels since the report began tracking them in 1990.
“The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report reveals an urgent need to address the increase in chronic conditions our nation is facing,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, executive vice president and chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, in a press release. “I urge you to take a closer look at this report’s data and use it to help tailor public health interventions that address these worrying trends. It’s important for all of us to continue to share these findings to spark dialogue and solutions to our nation’s most pressing public health challenges.”
The report, produced in partnership with the American Public Health Association (APHA), provides a comprehensive analysis of 87 health measures from 28 data sources. The report found that in 2022, more than 29 million US adults reported having three or more chronic conditions.
The report also found that the premature death rate reached its highest recorded level in the history of the rankings, as chronic conditions contributed to six of the top 10 leading causes of death prior to 75 years of age.
“Recent improvement continued in the increasing supply of mental health providers, but frequent mental distress also continued to increase,” the report stated. “Other improvements include a decline in occupational fatality and unemployment rates and increases in per capita income. The uninsured rate and the supply of dental care providers improved, while the prevalence of avoiding care due to cost increased and the supply of primary care providers decreased.”
For diabetes, the prevalence of the disease jumped to 11.5% of US adults, representing approximately 31.9 million individuals. Depression grew by 21.7% to affect approximately 54.2 million US adults. Notably, depression was 2.4 times higher among adults who identified as LGBTQ+.
As the focus has grown on important health factors such as healthcare inequity and social determinants of health, the report highlights significant differences among various demographic groups. COPD prevalence was found to be 7.1 times higher among American Indian/Alaska Native adults than Asian adults. Cancer was 3.9 times higher among white adults than among Asian adults.
Additionally, Hispanic adults with diabetes were 2.1 times more likely to have uncontrolled blood sugar levels and Black adults were 1.8 times more likely to have uncontrolled blood sugar levels as indicated by an A1c test than their White counterparts with diabetes.
Many health factors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic reverted to levels seen prior to 2020. The report found that between 2021 and 2022, excessive drinking grew from 17.3% to 18.4% of adults, compared to 18.6% in 2019. Meanwhile, frequent physical distress jumped from 10.9% to 12.4%, compared with 12.5% in 2019. Rates of suicide grew from 14.0 deaths per 100,000 population back to 14.5, which was the rate recorded in 2019.
“More and more Americans are living with multiple chronic conditions—many of which require complex management even after diagnosis,” said APHA executive director Dr. Georges Benjamin, in a press release. “At APHA, we are grateful to the United Health Foundation for producing this report which is a call to action for all of us to urgently address these conditions to improve our health.”
America’s Health Rankings 2023 Annual Report: Chronic Conditions on the Rise. United Health Foundation. Webpage. December 5, 2023. Accessed December 7, 2023. https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/newsroom/posts/2023/2023-12-05-ahr-annual-report-2023.html