New Report Ranks US States for Healthiness

Diabetes and smoking down in US overall, obesity and physical inactivity up

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The United Health Foundation today released its annual state health rankings. The states varied widely, and some national measures of health saw slight improvements.

Overall, national rates of diabetes and smoking saw slight declines. But obesity and physical inactivity continued to climb.

Among the states, Hawaii held onto its title as healthiest, while Mississippi still trailed the other 49.

"Hawaii has consistently been in the top 6 states since the inception of the rankings in 1990," according to the rankings report. "Its continued presence among the top states is due to its low prevalence of both smoking and obesity; a low percentage of children in poverty; small disparity in health status by education level; and low rates of preventable hospitalizations, cancer deaths, and cardiovascular deaths."

On the mainland, Mississippi has seen little change in its health ranking since the United Health Foundation began ranking states for health.

"Mississippi has ranked among the bottom 3 states since the inception of the rankings," according to the report. "Mississippi ranks well for low prevalence of binge drinking, high immunization coverage among children, and small disparity and health status. However, it ranks in the bottom 5 states on 16 of the 27 measures including a high prevalence of obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, children in poverty, and low birthweight infants."

Maryland made the most rapid improvements in health. In 2013, the state ranked 24th. This year, it jumped eight places to 16th.

Wyoming, on the other hand, saw the steepest drop in overall health. Last year, the state ranked 17th. This year, it dropped all the way to 25th.

According to the new report, the US made some national health gains in 2014. Among these was a 3 percent drop in the number of US smokers. In 2013, 19.6 percent of the US population smoked. In 2014, that figure dropped to 19 percent. Also, 5 percent more teens were immunized this year than last year.

Diabetes rates also saw a slight decline. In 2013, about 9.7 percent of the population had diabetes. That figure dropped to 9.6 percent in 2014.

But the US also saw some drops in overall health — especially in obesity and physical inactivity. Obesity rates jumped from 27.6 percent of the population in 2013 to 29.4 percent this year. And the number of people who said they were physically active dropped from 76 percent in 2013 to 74.7 percent in 2014.


Review Date: 
December 10, 2014
Last Updated:
December 12, 2014