In the latest national health rankings by the United Health Foundation, New Jersey gets the "most improved" award. The state moved up nine slots to be ranked the eighth-healthiest state in the nation, the biggest positive move by any state.
But before we break out the cheesecake to celebrate, we should note that even as the report says there are fewer obese and diabetic New Jersey residents than a year ago, it also says we are smoking more and are becoming more sedentary.
And all this is relative. New Jersey residents may only seem healthier because people in other states are sliding downhill at a faster rate.
Which raises the question not just is the glass half full or half empty, but whether the stuff in the glass is good for us.
The report's overall good news/bad news message is that, while Americans are living longer due to medical advances, they are also sicker than they need to be due to unhealthy life choices.
The biggest culprits are the usual suspects - poor diet and lack of exercise, which lead to complications from such things as diabetes and high blood pressure.
While New Jersey scored better than average in some respects - such as levels of obesity and smoking - it scored worse by other measures. More than 18 percent of New Jersey adults qualify as binge drinkers, for instance. And the percentage of New Jersey children living in poverty rose from 13 percent in 2011 to 17 percent this year, while budget cuts have reduced access to health care for poor families.
Some of these factors are things individuals have control over. New Jersey ranked 30th in the percentage of adults who reported doing no physical activity, other than their job, in the past 30 days. But researchers say even moderate activity can make a big difference. One recent study of 650,000 people older than 40 found that the change from a sedentary lifestyle to mild activity can increase life expectancy by nearly two years.
Improving other factors will require public policy decisions.
Nearly 16 percent of our state residents do not have health insurance. And there are more unnecessary hospital admissions in New Jersey than the national average.
Unfortunately, state officials have been a bit sedentary when it comes to actions that would improve things. Just last week, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have created a state-run health insurance exchange, one of the key ways that the Affordable Care Act will bring health insurance to people who don't have it now.
People with health insurance have better access to doctors who can help them stay healthy, of course, and they are also less likely to seek acute care in an emergency room - the most expensive way to provide it - or to ignore health problems until they become serious and costly.
As individuals and as a state, we can reduce the factors that contribute to preventable diseases and, in doing so, reduce future health care costs for everyone.
Literally and figuratively, it's time to get moving.