The United Health Foundation’s annual U.S. health rankings do more than just rank our 50 states by where the most fit people live. Instead, it’s based on a model that takes into account physical, mental and social well-being (think: air pollution, obesity rates, number of health-care providers, number of smokers and physical inactivity metrics)—so when the annual report is released, ranking all 50 states on their “healthiness,” it’s noteworthy.
This year, as Well + Good reports, is the first in five that Hawaii has not gone home with the number-one spot. Instead, it’s Massachusetts that’s the healthiest state (followed closely by Hawaii). Vermont comes in third, Utah in fourth and Connecticut in fifth.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Mississippi has been ranked last for the second year in a row, then Louisiana in 49th place, Arkansas in 48th, Alabama in 47th and West Virginia in 46th. “Mississippi and Louisiana have major health challenges, including a high prevalence of smoking, obesity and children in poverty,” the report reads.
According to the report, Florida and Utah “experienced the largest rank improvements since last year,” as both states rose four slots to now being number 32 and number four in the country, respectively. The state with the largest rank decline, however, was North Dakota, whose rankings for smoking, Salmonella and immunizations among children all declined this year.
While a large part of this ranking has to do with factors that are out of our control, others, such as obesity, smoking and excess drinking, are on us. Here’s to climbing the health ladder, one year at a time.
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