Surprise! The Poorer States Are Also The Unhealthiest
A new survey has ranked the best and worst states in terms of health. How does your state rank?
The United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention have released a report on where the healthiest and unhealthiest Americans live. The good news is that, on the whole, Americans are getting healthier. We're smoking less (from 21.2 to 19.6 percent a year ago), and we're more active (physical inactivity has dropped from 26.2 to 22.9 percent). The percentage of obese adults (27.6%), however, has not really changed (27.8 percent last year). Here are the top and bottom 5 healthiest states in the country. You can find the full list here.
Top 5 healthy states
1. Hawaii: The Aloha state boasts one of the lowest prevalences of obesity and the smoking prevalence decreased from 16.8 percent to 14.6 percent of adults. In one year, the violent crime rate decreased from 287 to 239 offenses per 100,000 population. Currently, Hawaii has the lowest rate of preventable hospitalizations in the nation.
2. Vermont: Smoking decreased from 19.1 percent to 16.5 percent and the percentage of uninsured population decreased from 9.0 percent to 7.8 percent of the population. In the past 10 years, the rate of cardiovascular deaths decreased by 34 percent from 295.8 to 220.8 deaths per 100,000 population.
However, the prevalence of binge drinking increased in the past year from 18.5 percent to 19.3 percent of adults. Also, in the past 5 years, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 10.9 percent to 17.0 percent of persons younger than 18 years.
3. Minnesota: Minnesota's prevalence of diabetes is among the lowest in the nation. In the past decade, the rate of cardiovascular deaths decreased by 40 percent from 262.1 to 186.9 deaths per 100,000 population. However, child poverty has increased in the Land of 10,000 Lakes over the last 10 years, increasing to 13.7 percent from 8.4 percent.
4. Massachusetts: More and more people in Massachusetts are getting active and the adult obesity rate in Massachusetts is lower than most states in the country, at 22.9 percent. Smoking prevalence has gone down in The Bay State to 16.4 percent from 18.2 percent of adults. However, the state is high in binge drinking and preventable hospitalizations.
5. New Hampshire: The Granite state has decreased smoking prevalence decreasing to 17.2 percent of adults from 19.4 percent of adults in the past year. The four-year high school graduation rate has improved over the last 10 years, going up to 86.3 percent from 75.3 percent. But the rate of childhood poverty has increased in this state, to 10.9 percent from 6.5 percent in the last five years.
The 5 unhealthiest states
46. West Virginia: The state is second to Kentucky for most smokers, with 28.2 percent of adults being smokers and the prevalence of obesity has increased to 33.8 percent from 32.4 percent. Nearly a third of adults are physically inactive. However, immunizations among teens are up to 56.1 percent in the past year, from 47.9 percent.
47. Alabama: A fourth of all adults are smokers and a quarter million Alabamans have diabetes, 760,000 adults are obese and more than 690,000 adults are physically inactive. The number of days that Alabamans have "poor mental health" has increased to 4.7 days in the last 30 days, compared with 3.6 days in the last 30 days, over the last five years.
48. Louisiana: More than one third of adults (34.7 percent) are obese in Louisiana, and more than 1 million adults are physically inactive. More than 30 percent of children live in poverty in Louisiana (the third year in a row). Louisiana, however, has improved by one spot in the rankings from 2012, as the number of people dying from drugs decreased in the past year, to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 people from 17.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Violent crime has decreased in the state by 12 percent in the past year.
49. Arkansas: The child poverty level is the highest in Arkansas -- 29.6 percent -- since 1990 (when the rankings began). A fourth of the population of Arkansas smokes. Also high in the Natural State are levels of physical inactivity (760,000 adults), obesity (690,000 adults) and diabetes (nearly 125,000). Residents also have "poor mental health" for 4.7 days in the last 30 days, compared with 3.6 days in the last 30 days, over the last five years.
50. Mississippi: Mississippi ranks last for new cases of infectious diseases, with 715 cases of chlamydia and 48.6 cases of Salmonella occurring per every 100,000 people. The number of people who are uninsured has decreased by 25 percent in the last five years. More than 770,000 adults are obese and nearly 280,000 have diabetes in the state. Exercise rates are low, with nearly 690,000 adults being physically inactive. Fortunately, the smoking rate has declined 8.3 percent in the last year.
Do you live in a healthy state?