America's Health Rankings: These are the 10 healthiest and 10 unhealthiest States

America's Health Rankings: These are the 10 healthiest and 10 unhealthiest States

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While our personal health may seem to relate mostly to personal choices and everyday activities, it is also greatly affected by our living environment, available clinical care and state health policies. The US spends the most on health care, but this does not translate into better care for everyone. The US still has one of the highest inequalities in health compared to other developed countries.


While the huge increase in obesity rates over the last two decades has grabbed all the news headlines, the overall health of Americans might be turning a corner. America's Health Rankings 2013 (verlinkung: the annual report conducted by the United Health Foundation, found improvements  nationwide proving it's never too late to get healthy and get active. The study is basted on diverse health statistics and social, economic, and/or environmental data including smoking, obesity, diatery choices, air pollution, physical inactivity, poverty rates and more.


Key findings

Smoking: 1,6% less people smoked regularly in 2013 than the year before.

Physical inactivity: 3,3% less couch potatoes - that is the number of adults who did not participate in physical activity in the last 30 days.

Quality of Air: The average amount of fine particulate in the air continues to decline from 13.2 micrograms in 2003 to 10.3 micrograms per cubic meter in 2013.

Crime Rate: Violent crime rates have decreased 36 percent since 1990. Infant mortality: The infant mortality rate decreased almost 40% between 1990 and 2013.

Cancer: Almost no improvement in cancer death since 1990. Only 3% less people died of cancer than 23 years ago.


The 10 Healthiest States in the USA

10. New Jersey: The Garden State is swamped with primary care physicians and dentists. It also has an above the average air quality. In the past 5 years, air pollution decreased by 37%. On the other hand smoking, obesity and diabetes have been on the rise.

9. North Dakota: Although the state still maintains high rates of obesity and binge drinking. North Dakota has some of the highest rated nursing homes in the country and excellent drug coverage help make this state a safe haven for seniors.

8. Colorado: Coloradans like to stay active. As a result they have some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular deaths, cancer deaths, and diabetes. Not to mention, the lowest obesity rate nationwide.

7. Connecticut: Connecticut has one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation. The residents get high marks for annual visits to the dentist and regular health checkups. Unsurprisingly, this state has one of the lowest rates of premature death in the country.

6. Utah: Utah sports the lowest number of adult smokers, at 10.6 percent of the adult population. They also have, by far, the lowest rate of cancer deaths. Hospital deaths and hospital re-admissions are also the lowest in the nation due to a high rate of hospice care.

5. New Hampshire: The Granite State is a healthy place for the young and old alike. It has the highest infant mortality rate and the second-highest percentage of adults age 65 and older in very good or excellent health.

4. Massachusetts: Massachusetts has the highest concentration of primary care physicians and dentists; not to mention the highest rate of health insurance coverage. It also has the second-lowest rate of obesity.

3. Minnesota: Only 11.7% of Minnesotans described their current health as fair or poor, the lowest rate nationwide. The Gopher State also had the lowest rate of premature death and the highest percentage of able-bodied seniors.

2. Vermont: Vermont sports the highest percentage of seniors in very good or excellent health. It also loves its vegetables. Vermonters tied with neighboring New Hampshirites for the highest number of vegetables consumed per capita.

1. Hawaii: Hawaii has taken the top spot two years running. Although many Hawaiians do bing drinking every now and then, their lifestyle otherwise remains quite healthy. The Aloha State has never fallen below sixth place since these health rankings began in 1990.


The 10 Unhealthiest States in the USA

10. Indiana: Bad habits land the Hoosiers at the bottom of the pack in the Midwest; ranking among the 10 worst states nationwide for smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity. However, it isn't all bad news for Indiana residents in their golden years. The state sports a low rate of infectious diseases as well as a low percentage of seniors living in poverty.

9. Tennessee: The Volunteer State has dramatically increased its high school graduation rate in the past 5 years (from 68.5%t to 80.4%). However, the state still struggles with the highest rate of violent crime nationwide and the third highest percentage of adults who smoke regularly.

8. South Carolina: Chronically low high school graduation rates and high amounts of violent crime continue to be problems for the sunny Palmetto State. South Carolina also scores the second-highest rate of infectious diseases in the country.

7. Oklahoma: With a spartan number of primary care physicians, a massive geriatrician shortfall, and a high rate of low-care nursing home residents, it is no surprise that Oklahoma is positioned second to last in senior health. 'Okies' also rank amongst those least likely to eat fruits and vegetables or visit the dentist.

6. Kentucky: Despite being known for its bourbon distilleries, the Bluegrass State has surprisingly low rates of binge drinking, violent crime, and infectious diseases. Kentucky residents do have their vices though. The state has the fourth highest rate of drug deaths and the highest percentage of adult smokers.

5. West Virginia: While West Virginia boasts a slightly lower percentage of adult smokers and cancer deaths than neighboring Kentucky, it sports the highest rate of diabetes in the country.

4. Alabama: Besides having a very low prevalence of chronic drinking, the overall health in Alabama has few bright spots. The state ranks among the five highest in obesity rates, infectious diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular deaths, and poor mental health.

3. Louisiana: The Bayou State has made significant gains in reducing crime and improving education. However, Louisiana still has the highest rate of obesity in the nation (at 34.7% of the adult population) as well as the third highest rate of diabetes, infectious diseases, and preventable hospitalizations.

2. Arkansas: Obesity and smoking continue to plague overall health in The Land of Opportunity. A total of 31.4% of adults reported doing no physical activity or exercise (such as gardening, golfing, walking, aerobics, or running) in the last 30 days; the highest percentage nationwide.

1. Mississippi: Although smoking has declined by 8.3% in the past year, more than a half million adults still smoke in Mississippi. As obesity, physical inactivity, and diabetes remain among the highest in the nation in Mississippi. Mississippi's overall health landed at the bottom of the ranking for 11 of the last 12 years, and in the bottom three since the United Health Foundation began tabulating health lists in 1990.


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Editor, 01/14/2014

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