Minnesota Ranks as Healthiest State
Minnesota is the healthiest state, and Louisiana is the least healthy state, according to annual state health rankings compiled by the UnitedHealth Foundation, the Daily Oklahoman reports. The report, "America's Health: UnitedHealth Foundation State Health Rankings," considers states' smoking rates, obesity, heart disease, motor vehicle deaths, cancer rates, violent crimes and the incidence of infectious diseases. It examines state residents' behaviors and decisions; community policy leaders' decisions regarding community health; community environment; and the state's ability to gather information and use the data to monitor and measure variations in the health system (Killackey, Daily Oklahoman, 10/24). The report used information from HHS; the U.S. departments of Commerce, Education and Labor; the National Safety Council; and the American Cancer Society. Minnesota, which has held the top ranking for eight of the 12 years that the foundation has conducted the rankings, is first in the nation in three health measures: support for public health care, heart disease rate and premature death rate. In contrast, Louisiana ranks last due to a high rate of uninsurance, a high premature death rate, a low high school graduation rate and high unemployment. Thirty-seven states showed improvements in their overall scores between 2000 and 2001. In the 12 years that the foundation has conducted the report, the nation's health has improved by 14% due to "steady improvements" in reduction of motor vehicle deaths, infant mortality, infectious disease and prevalence of smoking. All 50 states' overall score has increased between 1990 and 2001, with 31 states improving faster than the average (UnitedHealth Foundation, "America's Health: UnitedHealth Foundation State Health Rankings," October 2001). For a copy of the report, go to http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/rankings2001/index.htm.