Originally posted December 26, 2013 by Kathryn Mayer on http://www.benefitspro.com
Americans are making “considerable progress” in their overall health, according to United Health Foundation’s 2013 America’s Health Rankings.
Overall, the annual ranking of America’s states found that smoking is down nationwide, as is physical inactivity.
Some states, of course, are faring better than others. Here are the top 10 healthiest places in America.
10. New Jersey
It helps that New Jersey’s residents are among the wealthiest in the nation, as the report finds the healthiest states are often among the nation’s most financially well-off. Additionally, the Garden State has among the most dentists and primary care physicians in the country.
9. North Dakota
North Dakota is one of the healthiest states, despite the fact that it has a high prevalence of obesity. Other factors, including few poor mental and physical health days per year and a low rate of drug deaths, help make this state amongst the healthiest in the nation.
Colorado has the lowest obesity rate of any other state. A little more than 20 percent of Colorado residents are considered obese. The considerably small obesity rate also helps other factors: In 2011 and 2012, for example, state residents were among the least vulnerable to heart attack and stroke.
A high prevalence of binge drinking and drug deaths still remain big challenges for the state.
Connecticut has one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation, and its obesity rate is also relatively low comparatively speaking, at 25.6 percent. Over the past two years, the uninsured population fell from 11.1 percent to 8.3 percent, according to the report. That is also helped by the fact that Connecticut has a high rate of medical professional availability for residents.
There are a lot of factors contributing to Utah’s good health standing: The Beehive State has the lowest smoking rate in the nation at 10.6 percent of the adult population, has low rates of binge drinking, preventable hospitalizations, diabetes, physical inactivity and obesity. But dragging the state down is a low availability of physicians.
5. New Hampshire
The state has one of the highest rates of healthy eating habits and visits to the dentist. Overall, the state is helped by its extremely low poverty rates, which enables residents to better afford treatment and increases the likelihood that they are informed on good health behaviors.
The state is in a health care state all its own because of reforms that went into effect back in 2006. Virtually all of its residents — 96 percent — are insured, and they all seem to use their coverage. More than in any other state, residents went to the doctor to get their cholesterol checked and visited the dentist. The state’s healthy status is also helped by the availability of physicians. In 2011, there were nearly 200 physicians per 100,000 residents.
The Gopher State has low rates of physical inactivity, diabetes and premature and cardiovascular deaths. However, it also has a high prevalence of binge drinking and low per capita public health funding.
Vermont, last year’s reported No. 1 state, is ranked second this year and has ranked among the top five for the last decade.
Vermont has a low uninsured rate. In the past year, the percentage of uninsured population dropped from 9 percent to 7.8 percent of the population.
Top-seated Hawaii scored well along most measures particularly for having low rates of uninsured individuals, high rates of childhood immunization, and low rates of obesity, smoking and preventable hospitalizations. But like all states, Hawaii also has areas where it can improve: It has higher-than-average rates of binge drinking and occupational fatalities, and lower-than-average rates of high school graduation.