Mind and Body

How Healthy Is Your State?

Ever wonder which state is the best or the worse for your health? Dr. Manny talks to Dr. Reed Tuckson from UnitedHealth Group about the 22nd Annual American Health Rankings and how the data affects the health of our nation


UnitedHealth Group has released their 2011 annual state-by-state health rankings. Wondering where your state ranked? Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, got the scoop.

Vermont is the nation’s healthiest state, according to the report, followed by fellow Northeastern states New Hampshire and Connecticut in the second and third spots respectively. Rounding out the top 5 healthiest states were Hawaii and Massachusetts.

On the other end of the spectrum was Mississippi as the least healthiest, followed by Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama.

The rankings were based on 23 different factors, including rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer death.

New York and New Jersey made the biggest improvements in health from 2010 to 2011, but researchers said the health of the nation as a whole is essentially stagnate.

“The news, unfortunately, this year is not good,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, chief of medical affairs for UnitedHealth Group and United Health Foundation board member. “We were making slight progress year over year in improving the overall healthiness of the nation. This year compared to last year we made no progress at all. That’s a real problem.”

The survey found increases in America’s rates of obesity (up 7.5 percent from 2001) and diabetes (from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011), and decreases in tobacco use (3 percent decline since 2010) and preventable hospitalization (17 percent decline since 2001).

Part of the problem, Tuckson said, is the affordability of healthy foods compared to junk foods.

“It is very easy to get access to a $1 cheeseburger, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he said. “It's much more difficult to get access to a $1 tomato.”

Tuckson said the good news is the food industry and the government are beginning to address these challenges by putting grocery stores in low income neighborhoods and bringing down the costs of fruits and vegetables.

He also said it’s important for Americans to start caring about and getting proactive when it comes to their health.

“At the end of the day, if we don't have a will to live, if we don't have a will to be as healthy as possible, then all the other things of course are not going to be effective,” Tuckson said. “So we've got to reach out to people, have more conversations in our home, but also in our communities, our civic associations, our churches, fraternities, and sororities. We have to mobilize a lot more people to care about this.”

Check out the full list of state rankings, in order, below:

1. Vermont
2. New Hampshire
3. Connecticut
4. Hawaii
5. Massachusetts
6. Minnesota
7. Utah
8. Maine
9. Colorado
10. Rhode Island
11. New Jersey
12. North Dakota
13. Wisconsin
14. Oregon
15. Washington
16. Nebraska
17. Iowa
18. New York
19. Idaho
20. Virginia
21. Wyoming
22. Maryland
23. South Dakota
24. California
25. Montana
26. Kansas
27. Pennsylvania
28. Illinois
29. Arizona
30. Delaware
31. Michigan
32. North Carolina
33. Florida
34. New Mexico
35. Alaska
36. Ohio
37. Georgia
38. Indiana
39. Tennessee
40. Missouri
41. West Virginia
42. Nevada
43. Kentucky
44. Texas
45. South Carolina
46. Alabama
47. Arkansas
48. Oklahoma
49. Louisiana
50. Mississippi