The Healthiest States in America

The United Health Foundation ranks Minnesota as the healthiest state in the country, with Vermont, New Hampshire, Utah and Hawaii rounding out the top five.

Below is the description of their components used for the rankings.

Risk Factors


Personal Behaviors

Prevalence of Smoking

Percentage of population over age 18 that smokes on a regular basis.  This is an indication of known, addictive, health-adverse behaviors within the population. (Table 18)

Motor Vehicle Deaths

Number of deaths per 100,000,000 miles driven in a state.  It is a proxy indicator for excessive drug and alcohol use within a population. (Table 19)

Prevalence of Obesity

Percentage of the population estimated to be obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher. Obesity is known to contribute to a variety of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and general poor health. (Table 20)

High School Graduation

Percentage of incoming ninth graders who graduate in four years from a high school with a regular degree.  It is an indication of the consumer’s ability to learn about, create and maintain a healthy lifestyle and to understand and access health care when required.  (Table 21)

Community Environment

Violent Crime

The number of murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults per 100,000 population.  It reflects an aspect of overall lifestyle within a state and its associated health risks.  (Table 22)

Lack of Health Insurance

Percentage of the population that does not have health insurance privately, through their employer or the government.  This is another indicator of the ability to access care as needed, especially preventive care. (Table 23)

Infectious Disease

Number of AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the toll that infectious disease is placing on the population.  (Table 24)

Children in Poverty

The percentage of persons under age 18 who live in households that are at or below the poverty threshold.  Poverty is an indication of the lack of access by this vulnerable population to health care.  (Table 25)

Occupational Fatalities

Number of fatalities from occupational injuries per 100,000 workers.  This measure reflects job safety as a part of public health. (Table 26)

Health Policies

Per Capita Public Health Spending

The dollars spent on direct public health care services, community-based services and population health activities as defined by NASBO.  This indicates the actual financial commitment a state has made to public health. (Table 27)

Immunization Coverage

Percentage of children ages 19 to 35 months who have received four or more doses of DTP, three or more doses of poliovirus vaccine, one or more doses of any measles-containing vaccine, three or more doses of HiB, and three or more doses of HepB vaccine. (Table 28)

Adequacy of Prenatal Care

Percentage of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care, as defined by Kotelchuck’s Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization (APNCU) Index.  This measures how well women are receiving the care they require for a healthy pregnancy and development of the fetus.  (Table 29)



Limited Activity Days

Number of days in the previous 30 days when a person indicates their activities are limited due to physical or mental difficulties.  This is a general indication of the population’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis.  (
Table 30)

Cardiovascular Deaths

Number of deaths due to all cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and strokes, per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the toll that these types of diseases place on the population. (Table 31)

Cancer Deaths

Number of deaths due to all causes of cancer per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the toll cancer is placing on the population.  (Table 32)

Total Mortality

Number of deaths per 100,000 population.  This is an overall indicator of health of a population as it measures death from all causes.  (Table 33)

Infant Mortality

Number of infant deaths (before age 1) per 1,000 live births.  This is an indication of the prenatal care, access and birth process for both child and mother.  (Table 34)

Premature Death

Number of years of potential life lost prior to age 75 per 100,000 population.  This is an indication of the number of useful years of life that are not available to a population due to early death.  (Table 35)

The report shows that Utah, ranked fourth overall has a low prevalence of smoking (ranked #1), low rate of cancer deaths (ranked #1), high rate of high school graduation (ranked #4), and low rate of infant mortality (ranked #6). Utah also ranks within the top ten states in 11 of the 18 measures.

The state has slipped from it’s 1997 high of being named second-healthiest on the list, but during the last ten years has been named within the top ten states every year.

Mississippi comes in as the most unhealthy state to live in, followed by Lousiana, Tennesee and Arkansas.



2 thoughts on “The Healthiest States in America

  1. Way to go, southern obese smokers!!!! Maybe if granny would keep the fatback outa the green beans and ditch the Marlboros, the south could rise again (in the list, I mean!).

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