Hawaii may be thousands of miles removed from the continental U.S., but the state’s residents don’t seem worse off for it. As Thrillist reports, America’s 50th state also happens to be the healthiest one in the nation.
This finding comes from the United Health Foundation, which releases the “America’s Health Rankings Annual Report” each year. Factors that affect both physical and mental health, as well as social well-being, are taken into account.
“For nearly three decades, America’s Health Rankings Annual Report has analyzed a comprehensive set of behaviors, public and health policies, community and environmental conditions, and clinical care data to provide a holistic view of the health of the people in the nation,” the foundation writes on its website.
Hawaii has been named the healthiest state in the U.S. nine times since 1990, when the first report was released. So what exactly are our island-dwelling counterparts doing right? For one thing, the state has low obesity and smoking rates compared to the national average. Residents enjoy low levels of air pollution, very little mental distress among adults, and a high number of available primary care physicians.
Following Hawaii, the healthiest states in the nation are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Utah. The report also highlights the unhealthiest states—or, as the foundation delicately puts it, those that have “the greatest opportunity for improvement.” Louisiana fared worst overall for health, largely because of its high rates of smoking, obesity, and children who live in poverty (28 percent). Mississippi comes in 49th place, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Maine saw the most improvement overall, having jumped seven places to number 16. It primarily improved in the areas of smoking and child poverty. Dropping four places, Oklahoma was the state that saw the biggest decline. Its obesity and physical inactivity rates both went up.
Check out the full report here [PDF] for more details on the state of the nation’s health, or scroll down to see the state ranking.
6. New Hampshire
10. New York
11. New Jersey
13. North Dakota
14. Rhode Island
25. South Dakota
33. North Carolina
35. New Mexico
43. South Carolina
44. West Virginia