Special Report

America's Most (and Least) Healthy States

The Least Healthy States in America

10. Indiana
> Pct. obese: 31.8% (9th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 274.4 (12th highest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 104.2 (14th lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 48.6 (9th lowest)

Based on health outcomes and various health determinants, Indiana was identified as the 10th least healthy state in America. Like all of the unhealthy states, Indiana residents struggled with obesity. The state’s obesity rate of nearly 32% was the ninth highest rate in the country. While 75% of Americans nationwide reported exercising regularly, less than 70% of Indiana residents did, one of the lower figures reviewed. Environmental factors also contributed to the state’s poor health ranking. Residents were exposed to nearly 12 microns of particulate matter found in smoke or haze on average, more than in all but one other state. While the state’s public health services were among the most underfunded nationwide, nearly 73% of adolescents in the state had received vaccinations as of last year, one of the higher immunization rates in the nation.

9. South Carolina
> Pct. obese: 31.7% (10th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 272.2 (14th highest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 107.9 (18th lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 47.6 (7th lowest)

There were nearly 560 violent crimes reported per 100,000 South Carolina residents last year, more than in all but four other states. A high violent crime rate can not only increase the risk of bodily injury and death, but it can also cause mental health issues and long-term stress for families, neighborhoods, and children. Infectious diseases were also more common in South Carolina than in many other states. For example, there were 580 cases of chlamydia and 31.1 cases of salmonella per 100,000 residents, both the fifth highest rates nationwide. Likely brought on by the state’s high obesity rate, 12.5% of residents had diabetes last year, nearly the highest rate in the nation.

8. Alabama
> Pct. obese: 32.4% (8th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 329.2 (2nd highest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 101.9 (11th lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 43.8 (3rd lowest)

Alabama residents had the second highest rate of cardiovascular deaths, at nearly 330 per 100,000 people. High cholesterol and high blood pressure were common more in Alabama than in almost any other state. The prevalence of these risk factors contributed to high rates of heart disease and stroke. In all, more than 10,000 years of life were lost for every 100,000 people due to premature deaths — defined as deaths that occur before age 75. Alabama’s infant mortality rate of 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births was also worse than all but one state. As in a majority of unhealthy states, low incomes may partly contribute to poor health outcomes. A typical household in Alabama made $41,381 in 2013, among the lowest median household incomes nationwide.

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