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The Most Serious Public Health Issues America Is Facing Today

24/7 Tempo Logo By Liz Blossom and Thomas C. Frohlich of 24/7 Tempo | Slide 1 of 13: Raw statistics about diseases and mortality don't always reveal the underlying causes or health issues that contribute to these statistics. And it's these health issues -- such as obesity and inactive lifestyle -- that have become some of America's most serious public health concerns.
For example, we know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death and hospitalization (not counting births) -- and these are the states with the most heart disease.
But we also know that the risk of heart disease -- and a number of other deadly or debilitating health conditions -- is greatly increased in people who eat a poor diet that increases cholesterol, are obese, are inactive, or smoke -- and these are the states with the most smokers.
Current statistics is not sufficient to identify public health issues. It is also important to look at trends. For example, suicide is the 10th leading causes of death, claiming the lives of more than 47,000 people in 2017. But what's more alarming is that suicide is rising across the United States. 
Similarly, the opioid epidemic has become among the most serious public health issues in just a few years. Prescriptions for painkillers are down, but they are still killing Americans. While many health outcomes relate to socioeconomic conditions, these, perhaps denote other societal failures.
In addition to public health issues related to lifestyle, mental health, and socioeconomic factors, in recent years environmental factors have also taken center stage. Mostly, the effects of global warming -- from floods, fires, hurricanes, and more -- are now affecting more and more Americans.

Raw statistics about diseases and mortality don't always reveal the underlying causes or health issues that contribute to these statistics. And it's these health issues -- such as obesity and inactive lifestyle -- that have become some of America's most serious public health concerns.

For example, we know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death and hospitalization (not counting births) -- and these are the states with the most heart disease.

But we also know that the risk of heart disease -- and a number of other deadly or debilitating health conditions -- is greatly increased in people who eat a poor diet that increases cholesterol, are obese, are inactive, or smoke -- and these are the states with the most smokers.

Current statistics are not sufficient to identify public health issues. It is also important to look at trends. For example, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, claiming the lives of more than 47,000 people in 2017. But what's more alarming is that suicide is rising across the United States. 

Similarly, the opioid epidemic has become among the most serious public health issues in just a few years. Prescriptions for painkillers are down, but they are still killing Americans. While many health outcomes relate to socioeconomic conditions, these perhaps denote other societal failures.

In addition to public health issues related to lifestyle, mental health, and socioeconomic factors, in recent years environmental factors have also taken center stage. Mostly, the effects of global warming -- from floods, fires, hurricanes, and more -- are now affecting more and more Americans.

© Drew Angerer / Getty Images

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