New Hampshire Healthiest State in the Nation, UnitedHealth Foundation Survey Finds
New Hampshire is the healthiest state, and Louisiana is the least healthy state in the nation, according to the annual state health rankings prepared by the private, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Foundation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The report considers high school graduation rates; access to prenatal care; support for public health care; smoking rates; infant and overall mortality rates; heart disease rates and risk for heart disease; cancer, premature, occupational and motor vehicle deaths; number of children in poverty; health insurance coverage; infectious disease rates; and activity rates (Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/12). Information for the report comes from HHS; the Commerce, Education and Labor departments; the National Safety Council; and the American Cancer Society (California Healthline, 10/25/01). California ranked 24th (UnitedHealth Foundation Web site). Besides New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Utah and Connecticut make up the five healthiest states, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The bottom five states are Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arkansas and Oklahoma. "Where you live makes a difference, because the health of a community directly impacts individual health of the nation," Dr. Mohammad Akhter, executive director of the American Public Health Association, which collaborated with UnitedHealth Foundation on the report, said (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/12).
Overall health in the United States has improved since 1990, the report says. However, overall health rankings dropped 0.9% from last year because of an 11% drop in public health funding and an increase in premature deaths, the Hartford Courant reports (Hathaway, Hartford Courant, 11/12). Other national trends since 1990 include:
- A 32% decrease in infant mortality from 10.2 deaths per 1,000 live births to 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births;
- A 27% decrease in the incidence of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis;
- A 23% decrease in the number of children living in poverty, from 20.6% to 15.8%; and
- A 22% decrease in smoking prevalence in adults, from 29.5% to 22.9% (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/12).
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