Special Report

The Healthiest States in America

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5. Utah
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 6,391 (10th lowest)
> Adult obesity rate: 27.7% (11th lowest)
> Adult smoking rate: 9.0% (the lowest)
> Median household income: $71,414 (12th highest)

While high levels of excessive drinking are a weakness in most of the nation’s healthiest states, just 11.3% of Utah adults report excessive drinking — the lowest rate. In addition, just 9.0% of Utah residents are smokers, also the lowest rate in the country. And only 17.5% of state residents do not exercise regularly, the second lowest figure nationwide.

With a median household income of $71,414, Utah residents are among the nation’s wealthiest. High incomes help Utah households afford healthier food, medicine, and medical care. As in the majority of healthy states, Utah residents were also in relatively good physical health. The state has the nation’s lowest concentration of deaths from cancer as well as the second lowest rate of adults with diabetes.

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4. Connecticut
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 6,091 (4th lowest)
> Adult obesity rate: 27.4% (7th lowest)
> Adult smoking rate: 12.2% (4th lowest)
> Median household income: $76,348 (5th highest)

Connecticut has one of the nation’s lowest smoking rates, at just 12.2% of the adult population. The state also has one of the lowest obesity rates in the United States, at 27.4% of the adult population.

The state fares well in health determinants related to both policy and clinical care. The child immunization rate of 75.3% is the tenth highest in the country, and the adolescent immunization rate of 95.4% is the third highest in the nation. Further, Connecticut had the fourth highest concentrations of primary care doctors at 220 per 100,000 people.

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3. Hawaii
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 6,245 (7th lowest)
> Adult obesity rate: 24.9% (2nd lowest)
> Adult smoking rate: 13.4% (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $80,212 (3rd highest)

A major reason for Hawaii’s high ranking among the healthiest states is its dedication to promoting good health through policy. The state provides $192 in public health funding per person, behind only Alaska and New Mexico. Just 4.0% of Hawaii’s population is not insured, the second-best rate nationwide. By comparison, 8.8% of Americans across the country are uninsured and, on average, states’ public health funding totals just $87 per person.

Beyond just policy, Hawaiians are among the least likely Americans to be obese or physically inactive. Preventable hospitalizations are the lowest in the nation at just 23.3 per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, compared to 49.4 per 1,000 beneficiaries nationwide. The state had just 209.8 cardiovascular deaths and 159.1 cancer deaths per 100,000 people, both among the lowest rates.

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2. Massachusetts
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 6,130 (6th lowest)
> Adult obesity rate: 25.7% (4th lowest)
> Adult smoking rate: 13.4% (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $79,835 (4th highest)

Massachusetts has the lowest rate of people without health care coverage in the nation, at just 2.8% of the population. By comparison, 8.8% of all Americans lack health insurance. In addition to having a largely insured population, Massachusetts also had the second highest concentration of primary care physicians in the U.S., at more than 247 for every 100,000 residents, as well as the highest concentration of dentists, at 82.7 per 100,000 people.

Low rates of smoking and obesity also help residents stay healthy. And high levels of immunization, too, help promote good health. About 82.1% of children between 19 months and 35 months have received the recommended doses of key vaccines. Immunization coverage among adolescents is the fifth highest, at 94.7%.

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1. Vermont
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 6,646 (14th lowest)
> Adult obesity rate: 27.5% (8th lowest)
> Adult smoking rate: 13.7% (10th lowest)
> Median household income: $60,782 (22nd highest)

Vermont is the healthiest state in the country. Obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity are relatively uncommon behaviors among Vermonters. Just over 90% report exercising on a regular basis, the fourth highest share in the country and just 27.5% of adults are obese. In comparison, 23.8% of Americans across the country say they don’t exercise and 30.9% are obese. The adult smoking rate is also significantly lower than the U.S. average at 13.7%, the 10th lowest, compared to 16.1% nationwide.

Vermont’s public health funding is among the highest in the nation. The state spends $144 per person for programs promoting nutrition, exercise, no smoking, and other healthy habits. In addition, the rate of uninsured residents is among the lowest in the country — 4.3%, more than half the national rate.

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