Vermont Claims ‘Healthiest State' Rising Obesity Rates Continue to Drag Nation’s Health
By Todd Zwillich~~WebMD Medical News~~Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Nov. 5, 2007 -- Vermont has moved into the No. 1 position as the nation's healthiest state, according to an annual 50-state survey released Monday. Vermont eclipsed Minnesota in 2007 as the nation's overall healthiest state. But the nation's overall health picture got slightly worse from last year to this year. "We are displeased and unhappy to have to report that this year the health of the nation is less good than it was last year. In fact, the health of the nation has slipped by about three tenths of a percent," says Reed Tuckson, MD, senior vice president of the United Health Foundation, which has issued the survey for the last 18 years.
The study's overall national scores have stagnated or declined since 2000. Authors attribute the drop to rising obesity, now affecting more than 25% of the population. The survey uses a combined score of health indicators and policy questions to rank all 50 states. Obesity rates, tobacco and alcohol use, and high school graduation rates are accounted for, as are state laws and regulations promoting better health. The survey measures access to health services and also environmental issues like pollution, infectious disease rates, and crime.
Vermont ranked at the top, thanks to a dropping smoking rate, rising insured rate, and other factors. Eighty-six percent of children 19 months to 35 months old are fully immunized in the state, one of the best coverage rates in the nation. The state also has low overall violent crime rates and a relatively low prevalence of infectious diseases, according to the report. Minnesota, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Connecticut made up the rest of the top five.
At the bottom were Southeastern states including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Mississippi ranked at the bottom, due in large part to high rates of child poverty and higher than average obesity rates. Ten in 1,000 children born in the state also die before their first birthday.
"That is something that we just should not accept in the United States of America, not in the wealthiest country in the world," says John M. Clyburn, president of the Partnership for Prevention, an umbrella group of health groups and companies.
How the States Ranked
Here's how the states ranked in the America's health rankings report:
Edited by: COUNTRYGIRLNE at: 11/13/2007 (07:16)
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