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America’s Healthiest and Unhealthiest States

This Wednesday the United Health Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Partnership for Prevention, released the 15th annual report ranking our states’ health. The number one healthiest state this year goes to Vermont, followed by Hawaii, then New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Utah completes the top five. Filling in the bottom five spots are, sadly, my state of Florida at #45, followed by Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, and finally Louisiana as #50, meaning the least healthiest state.

This year’s report reveals a 17.5 percent improvement in America’s overall health during the past 15 years. However, the rate of improvement, unfortunately, is slowing significantly due to a combination of personal, community and public health issues.

The State Health Rankings is a comprehensive, multi-dimensional, yearly analysis of the relative healthiness of the American population. This is complied using information supplied by sources and the rankings are determined by the findings from 18 different measures. Some of these measures include:

  • Prevalence of smoking,
  • High school graduation rates,
  • Infant mortality rates,
  • Premature death, and
  • Per capita public health spending to produce a composite assessment of each state’s health.

Ultimately, these measures reflect three essential contributors to healthiness:

  1. The decisions made by individuals that promote health and prevent disease;
  2. The community environment that affects the health of individuals and families;
  3. The health policies made by public and elected officials that determine the availability of public health and medical-care resources.

Wondering where your state is? Click here to see the official report and a chart listing the 50 states in order, or use their interactive map to see where your state ranks and its strengths and weaknesses. You can also see the recent CDC publication of America’s healthiest cities, which not surprisingly includes Burlington, Vermont at #1.

December 5th, 2008

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