Do You Live in One of the Healthiest States in the Union?

I usually stay away from lists -- the states with the highest mountains, or official buildings, or fat people.  But this caught my eye.  The 10 healthiest states in the U.S., from the America Health Rankings report.  Are you in here?

The list actually starts at the bottom, with the 25 least healthy states (though Louisana, Arkansas and Mississippi are at the real bottom, at 48, 49 and 50, respectively).  Lowest on the list for the 25?  Alaska.

That's because, according to Christine Matthies at health.com, the state has low levels of air pollution and a low prevalence of low birth weight. But surprisingly, there's a high violent crime rate, and the level of immunization of children is low.

Maryland comes next as the 24th healthiest state, though, last year it was ranked 20th.  A high crime rate here, too, gave it a low score, and a high infant mortality rate (probably because it also has a high prevalence of low birth weight).  Next came Montana, which surprised me.  I think of it as clean sweeps of land, high mountain ranges and basically, plain, practical people. But Montana came in at 23.

It has low levels of air pollution, a low rate for deaths from cancer, and also a low number of obese people or those with diabetes, but there are many uninsured and the survey discloses that it has a high rate of binge drinking and unavailability of primary care doctors.

Coming in at 21 is California.  When I think of that state, it's of lean, tanned bodies surfing or roller blading. But that's only half the story, apparently.  The state has a low prevalence of smokers, and, not surprisingly, low prevalence of inactivity.  But it also has significant air pollution and low rates of child immunization.

One of the healthier states -- moving up seven spots this year -- is Wyoming, from 25th to 17th.  The analysis shows that it has a low rate of violent crime and low percentage of children living in poverty. But it has a high level of smoking and a low immunization rate for adolescents.

Where do you think New York came in?  This really shocked me.  Fifteenth.  For its low rate of obesity and smoking (must be all those skinny women in black), but low rate of high school graduation, large number of children living in poverty, and low immunization coverage among children.

Number 10?  New Jersey.  Colorado, another state I always think of as having slender, muscled people, usually blond, came in at 8th healthiest. True, it has some of the lowest rates of obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes, but it also has a high prevalence of binge drinking and drug deaths.

Connecticut, my state, was 7th for its low incidence of smoking and infectious disease, and high rate of immunization of children.  But I was surprised to learn that we have a "moderate prevalence" of binge drinking, a low high school graduation rate and a "large disparity in health status by educational attainment."

Number two, three and four were Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont, in that order.  Minnesota seemed just about right at three because when I lived there, many years ago, no one had pimples or dandruff, everyone was rosy-cheeked, they smiled all the time.  And they ate a lot of beef. Hmm....

And number one?  This should probably come as no surprise.  It's Hawaii.  Who wouldn't be healthy living under blue skies, waving palm trees and a constant temperature in the high 70's?  For this state it was low levels of obesity and smoking, a high rate of immunization for children, and a low incidence of preventable hospitalizations. But on the dark side, it, too, has a large prevalence of binge drinkers, low high school graduation rate and -- go figure this one out -- a high rate of salmonella infection.

So I guess each state has its pros and cons.  Hopefully, you picked the one that rings all your bells, or at least, some of them.


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