Mental health as bad for life expectancy as smoking, diabetes: report

Poor mental health shortens life expectancy almost as much as diabetes, smoking or not working out, according to U.S. News & World Report along with the Aetna Foundation.

The findings are part of the organizations’ Healthiest Communities rankings, which evaluates nearly 3,000 communities across 81 health-related metrics, such as nutrition, housing along with education. Of all the metrics they evaluated, diabetes along with smoking had the strongest correlation to reduced life expectancy.

Poor self-reported mental health had about as strong a link, surprising Aetna Foundation President Garth Graham.

“I at first wanted us to double check,” said Graham, who is actually also Aetna’s vice president for community health.

Mental health did not have as strong of an effect last year, he said. However, the change is actually consistent with Centers for Disease Control along with Prevention data that will showed increasing fatal opioid overdoses along with suicides weighed on U.S. life expectancy.

Douglas County, Colorado, was named the healthiest community in America. Seven communities in Colorado made the top 20. Nearly all adults said they exercise in these counties. Plus, Colorado posted the highest average score for environment.

Communities inside top 25 percent typically posted strong housing quality, low environmental hazards along with health outcomes scores. At the bottom 25 percent, education, food along with nutrition along with economy tended to drag down overall performance.

“We often think about health as the four hours we spend in a doctor’s office a year, nevertheless health is actually about so much more than that will,” Graham said.

Here are the top 10 healthiest communities in America:

1. Douglas County, Colorado
2. Los Alamos County, fresh Mexico
3. Falls Church city, Virginia
4. Loudoun County, Virginia
5. Broomfield County, Colorado
6. Teton County, Wyoming
7. Hamilton County, Indiana
8. Carver County, Minnesota
9. Delaware County, Ohio
10. Howard County, Maryland

CVS Health acquired Aetna, a health insurer, in November. When the transaction closed, the combined company announced that will would likely spend $100 million, or $20 million annually, on community health efforts. The company will use the data coming from the fresh report to target these efforts, Graham said.