Friday, November 12, 2004

Hawaii ranks
high in health

The state also has the
nation's lowest rate of
obesity, an annual study finds

MINNEAPOLIS » Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Hawaii are the nation's healthiest states, while Louisiana is the least healthy, according to a report.

Healthy states

The United Health Foundation lists the healthy states in a 2004 survey. The top 10 are:

1. Minnesota
2. New Hampshire
3. Vermont
4. Hawaii
5. Utah
6. Massachusetts
7. North Dakota
8. Connecticut
9. Wisconsin
10. Maine

The annual report sponsored by the United Health Foundation weighs factors such as health insurance coverage, heart disease rates, infant mortality rates, the rate of motor vehicle deaths, high school graduation rates, childhood poverty and public health spending.

"To rank well, you have to demonstrate success across the board," said Dr. Reed Tuckson, an official with the St. Paul-based United Health Foundation.

Since the rankings began in 1990, Minnesota has finished first nine out of 15 times and never sunk lower than No. 2. Last year, it tied for first with New Hampshire.

This year, New Hampshire came in second, followed by Vermont, Hawaii and Utah. Finishing at the bottom were Tennessee, Mississippi and, in last place, Louisiana, a ranking it has held for 14 of the last 15 years of a national survey.

Hawaii was 10th in the 2003 study and has consistently been in the top 10.

The Aloha State is No. 1 for a low prevalence of obesity at 16.4 percent of the population. It also has a low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer, and a low total mortality rate, the study said.

Other strengths include a low prevalence of smoking, a low violent-crime rate, a low rate of uninsured population, strong support for public health and a low premature-death rate.

Challenges for Hawaii include a low high school graduation rate and a moderate incidence of infectious disease.

The nation's health showed improvement in the 1990s, with better public health spending and public education, and decreases in smoking, cardiovascular deaths and violent crime. But there has been little improvement nationwide since 2000 -- primarily because of the spike in obesity rates, Tucker said.

Since 1990 the number of obese adults has almost doubled, to 22 percent.

The United Health Foundation is a nonprofit foundation established by United Health Group, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based insurance company, to support public health and the work of doctors and other health providers around the country. The group undertakes the yearly study as a joint effort with the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention.

United Health Foundation



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