America’s Most (and Least) Healthy States

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The Healthiest States

10. New Jersey
> Pct. obese: 24.6% (8th lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 248.0 (25th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 140.4 (8th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 71.2% (8th highest)

New Jersey, one of the wealthiest states in the nation, had the third highest median household income in 2012 at $66,692. It also had one of the lowest poverty rates last year at just under 11%. Overall, New Jersey residents have managed to maintain relatively good health. This could be partly due to the strong medical infrastructure in the state. Per 100,000 residents, New Jersey had among the most dentists and primary care physicians in the country.

9. North Dakota
> Pct. obese: 29.7% (15th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 231.3 (19th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 115.9 (25th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 67.2% (25th highest)

North Dakota struggles with obesity. Nearly 30% of the state’s adult population was obese in 2012, compared to 27.6% of adults nationwide. However, while obesity is usually a strong indicator of poor health outcomes, North Dakotans were among the healthiest in the country. State residents reported being sick only three days in a month and being in poor mental health just 2.8 days per month, on average. These were the second lowest and the lowest rates in the country, respectively. Between 2008 and 2010, the state had one of the lowest rates of cancer deaths per capita in the country. The state also had very low rates of high cholesterol and strokes in 2012.

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8. Colorado
> Pct. obese: 20.5% (the lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 202.6 (2nd lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 117.9 (24th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 65.3% (20th lowest)

Colorado had the lowest obesity rate in the country last year at just over 20% of adults. As of 2011, the obesity rate among high school students was also the lowest in the nation. Exercise is likely paying off for Colorado residents. In 2011 and 2012, state residents were among the least vulnerable to heart attack and stroke. Much like many of the healthier states in the nation, Colorado’s poverty rate was low, a factor that has likely contributed to the health of its population. Less than 10% of households in the state relied on food stamps last year, one of the smallest shares in the country.

7. Connecticut
> Pct. obese: 25.6% (12th lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 219.8 (9th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 162.3 (6th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 76.1% (2nd highest)

Connecticut’s good health is clearly evident in the low rate of deaths due to preventable causes in the state as of 2009 — both third lowest in the nation. Factors such as low smoking and obesity rates likely play a role in promoting good health. Residents also benefit from ready access to medical professionals. Connecticut had 162.3 physicians and 79.1 dentists per 100,000 residents, both among the highest in the nation. Additionally, just 8.3% of people in the state lacked health insurance in 2011 and 2012. The availability of medical care may be due to high incomes in the state. A typical household in Connecticut earned more than $64,000 in 2012, versus a median household income of $51,017 nationwide.

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6. Utah
> Pct. obese: 24.3% (6th lowest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 209.9 (4th lowest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 88.5 (6th lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 68.4% (16th highest)

More than 83% of Utah’s adult population reported they exercised regularly last year, the second most among all states. Utah’s children were among the least likely to live in poverty last year. In addition, the state’s infant mortality rate of 4.4 deaths per 1,000 live births was the lowest in the nation in 2008 and 2009. Utah’s adults have been in good health the past few years. Between 2008 and 2010, the state had the lowest rate of deaths from cancer in the country. Also, just 2.6% of adults in Utah suffered from heart disease, a smaller percentage than every other state.