Special Report

America's Most (and Least) Healthy States

7. West Virginia
> Pct. obese: 35.1% (the highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 303.7 (6th highest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 107.8 (17th lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 47.3 (5th lowest)

More than 27% of West Virginians reported a smoking habit last year, the highest smoking rate in the nation. Tobacco habits normally start fairly early in life, and youth smoking was quite common in West Virginia. Nearly one in five high school-age state residents had smoked at least once in the previous 30 days, also the highest rate in the country. It’s not just tobacco that West Virginians abuse. There were an alarming 31.3 drug-related deaths per 100,000 state residents last year, by far the worst rate nationwide. In addition, there were 220 cancer deaths per 100,000 state residents, the third highest rate among all states reviewed.

6. Tennessee
> Pct. obese: 33.7% (4th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 300.6 (7th highest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 124.4 (19th highest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 50.9 (15th lowest)

More than one-third of Tennessee adults and nearly 17% of adolescents were considered obese last year, both the fourth highest rates nationwide. As in most states, the obesity problem in Tennessee has worsened considerably. Physical inactivity was likely a major contributor. Less than 63% reported routine exercise, less than in all but one other state. Residents also had among the highest rates of heart attacks, and there were more than 300 cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people, one of the highest rates. Determinants such as a struggling economy and safety concerns also played a role in the state’s poor ranking. More than 8% of Tennessee’s workforce was unemployed in 2013, one of the highest rates nationwide. The state also had the nation’s worst crime rate, at 643.6 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2013.

5. Oklahoma
> Pct. obese: 32.5% (7th highest)
> Cardiovascular deaths per 100,000: 322.0 (3rd highest)
> Physicians per 100,000: 84.8 (3rd lowest)
> Pct. visiting dentist in 2012: 50.2 (14th lowest)

Less than 63% of children in Oklahoma had been vaccinated, one of the worst rates of any states. Also, 18% of residents did not have health insurance last year, one of the higher rates reviewed. The state’s public health system received about $79 per capita in public funding, one of the nation’s lower rates. Even more scarce than funding was access to a primary care doctors. There were less than 85 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents in Oklahoma, a lower rate than in all but two other states. Policies and clinical care measures like these tend to result in worse health outcomes for residents. Chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol were more common in Oklahoma than in the vast majority of states. There were also 322 cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 Oklahoma residents, the third worst rate in the nation.

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