Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New England - The Healthiest States in the US

The United Health Foundation has just released their 2011 Report on the state of health in the US. According to the report, health improvement seems to have stagnated over the past year, most likely due to economic conditions. In many states there is an increase in obesity rates, preventable diseases, and children living in poverty.

The study looked at four groups of criteria which can be affected by positive change. Included in these categories are behaviors we adopt as individuals and groups, our community and environment, public health policies in place to help citizens maintain their health, and the quality and cost of our clinical care.

Although the country on a whole is not improving, New England states rank within the top ten healthiest. In order from healthiest to least healthy:

1. Vermont
2. New Hampshire
3. Connecticut
4. Hawaii
5. Massachusetts
6. Minnesota
7. Utah
8. Maine
9. Colorado
10. Rhode Island

Go New England! According to the breakdown by state, among the things the New England states have done to rank in the top ten include: decreasing the incidence of infectious disease, lowering the incidence of violent crime, maintaining a high rate of high school graduation, employing a healthy number of primary care physicians, organizing good immunization programs, and a lowering rates of obesity. There are several things we still need to work on including smoking and binge drinking.

Although New England scored well, many other regions were not so healthy. In fact, the southern states seemed to score the lowest in general. According to the report, the five least healthy states in the country are:

46. Alabama
47. Arkansas
48. Oklahoma
49. Louisiana
50. Mississippi

Among the things these states need to work on are high rates of smoking, binge drinking, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high school drop outs, and obesity. I know people are probably nodding and thinking about all the excellent southern fried food that seemingly has a negative impact on southern health, but I would argue that the recent economic conditions of the country have a lot to do with the general unhealthy status of the south as well.

The overall message of the article was not great news however. Rates of obesity have risen 15% over the last twenty years. According to the report, there are predictions that it will soon climb to reach 40% of American adults. I think we might all need to hit the tready for a few extra miles.

Its interesting to note that New England states are among the healthiest in the nation, but we are also top the charts as far as population loss over the last 10 years. At least Massachusetts has now lost so much population, we will lose a seat in the House of Representatives. This is a trend that needs to reverse.

However, I guess we should just accept the good news and count our blessings. At least for right now, it is very healthy to be a Yankee.


  1. Great blog! I just posted it on my WICKED New England Facebook page.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks for visiting and for the compliment. Happy New Year!