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New York State: a (relatively) healthy place to live

Who's staying healthy in the USA? Hint: it's not Mississippi.

blog by Lindsay Hannon  • 

Despite 147 years of relative peace following the Civil War, the North and South remain divided—at least when it comes to health, according to The United Health Foundation’s annual ranking of healthiest states. With the exception of Hawaii, the top five healthiest states are located in the Northeast. The five unhealthiest states, on the other hand, are located in the southern United States.

Poverty, smoking, high obesity rates and lack of health insurance are the most commonly shared characteristics among the unhealthiest states. Perhaps counterintuitively, these states share the lowest rates of binge drinking, whereas the healthiest states share the highest rates of alcohol overload. Draw your own conclusions!

So which state is the healthiest? Break out the maple syrup—Vermont is ranked number one on the chart. This is primarily due to the Green Mountain State’s well-funded public health-care system and low rates of violence.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoid floating downriver into Mississippi, the unhealthiest state in the country. Rock-bottom rankings in physical activity, health status, infant mortality, pre-term birth rate, personal income and teen birth rate will do that. Depressing.

To determine the rankings, various federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau, compiled and compared data on 23 measures of health.

How did our own Empire State do? Overall, New York is 18th on the list of 50 states in terms of overall health. We are 24th in air pollution with 9.7 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter, much better than California’s survey-worst 15.1. We are 30th in binge drinking, which is based on five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women in a two-hour period. We have the eighth-fewest cancer deaths at 177.6 per 1,000, which is good. We are well above the national average in cardiovascular deaths, however, with 289.6 per 1,000. Boo.

Check out the rankings here, either in 3-D or list view.

Photo from Flickr / Ed Yourdon.

TAGGED: exercise, health, mississippi, new york, united health foundation, united states, vermont

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