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How healthy is your state?

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According to a new study conducted by UnitedHealth Group, New Hampshire citizens are the healthiest in the nation, followed by Minnesotans and citizens of Massachusetts. Residents of South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana are the most unhealthy in the nation, according to UnitedHealth's research.

New Hampshire has ranked as the top state for the past two years. It has the highest adequacy of prenatal care at 87.7 percent of the population. The state also has the lowest rate of infant mortality in the country at 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2002, the percentage of children in poverty declined from 7.7 percent to 7.4 percent.

Since 1990, when UnitedHealth first issued its national healthiness report, the health of all Americans has improved. Plummeting motor vehicle death rates, low unemployment, and a decrease in smoking are primary reasons for the upswing in the nation's health. Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington showed the most improvement in health since 1990, outpacing the national average by 10 percent. Louisiana has been last for the past three years, its score continues to decline, and it is now 23.9 percent below the national average.

Survey based on lifestyle, environment

The study is an annual survey of each state's overall healthiness based on 17 lifestyle and environmental factors, including the prevalence of smoking, violent-crime rate, unemployment rate, access to health insurance, and mortality rate. UnitedHealth assigns a number to each state based on the 17 factors, with positive numbers representing better health, while negative numbers indicate poorer health.

UnitedHealth, a Minneapolis-based health insurer, compiled statistics and information from the American Cancer Society, National Safety Council, U.S. Department of Commerce Bureaus, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health, and U.S. Department of Labor.

"This ranking is extremely comprehensive," says Reed Tuckson, senior vice president of consumer health and medical care advancement at UnitedHealth. "That means healthcare professionals, public officials, community leaders, and individuals can use this information to assist them in spotting health trends, analyzing the effectiveness of state health initiatives, and targeting or refocusing new initiatives designed to improve community and individual health."

State by state health rankings
2002 Rank 2001 Rank State 2002 Score
1
1 New Hampshire 23.9
2
2 Minnesota 21.8
3
4 Massachusetts 18.5
4
5 Utah 17.9
5
3 Connecticut 16.6
6
8 Vermont 15.8
7
7 Colorado 14.5
8
10 Iowa 14.5
9
12 North Dakota 14.0
10
6 Maine 13.8
11
9 Washington 13.5
12
14 Wisconsin -8.8
13
13 Rhode Island 11.8
14
11 Hawaii 11.6
15
16 Nebraska 10.5
16
21 South Dakota 9.7
17
19 Oregon 9.3
18
17 Virginia 8.7
19
15 New Jersey -10.1
20
22 Idaho 7.8
21
18 Kansas 6.7
22
24 Indiana 4.3
23
20 Pennsylvania 3.8
24
26 California 3.7
25
28 Montana 3.7
26
33 Wyoming 2.7
27
27 Ohio -13.3
28
25 Maryland 0.8
29
29 Michigan 0.6
30
23 Alaska 0.2
31
31 Illinois -0.9
32
30 Missouri -2.6
33
32 New York -2.6
34
34 Arizona -3.7
35
37 Delaware -3.9
36
35 North Carolina -5.3
37
36 Texas -5.6
38
40 Nevada -5.8
39
37 Kentucky -7.6
40
38 Georgia -8.8
41
40 West Virginia -8.9
42
42 New Mexico -10.1
43
44 Florida -12.2
44
43 Tennessee -12.3
45
47 Alabama -12.8
46
45 Oklahoma -13.3
47
46 Arkansas -14.9
48
48 South Carolina -16.4
49
49 Mississippi -22.2
50
20 Louisiana -23.9

2003 UnitedHealth Group

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