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:
2. New Hampshire
10. Rhode Island
11. New Jersey
12. North Dakota
18. New York
23. South Dakota
32. North Carolina
34. New Mexico
41. West Virginia
45. South Carolina