Hawaii is the healthiest state in the country, according to a new report released last week by the United Health Foundation. The 2018 America’s Health Rankings report analyzed 35 different markers of health, including obesity, physical inactivity and access to healthcare providers, to rank each of the states from healthiest to least healthy.
“The report provides a benchmark of how the health of each state’s population has changed year over year, by comparison to other states, and insights into challenges and successes,” Dr. Rhonda Randall, a senior adviser to the report and chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare National Markets, explained. “Every state has some areas where they’re challenged and some areas where they have some really strong measures around their health.”
Along with Hawaii, this year’s top five healthiest states are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Utah. It’s the same lineup as last year, but in a different order—in 2017, Massachusetts was named number one. Prior to that, Hawaii had held the honors of healthiest state for five straight years.
And in 2018, it’s back on top thanks to factors like a high number of primary care physicians per 100,000 people and low air pollution.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Louisiana was named the least healthy state, due to its high rate of child poverty (the highest in the country), along with high percentages of smoking and obesity. Joining it at the bottom are Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi.
The report also examined overall health trends across the U.S. One of the key findings this year is that the obesity rate has reached an all-time high of 31.3 percent, meaning about one in three Americans are considered obese.
Yet experts remain optimistic about the health of the nation. Dr. Randall says, “What I hope we will see next year is that some of these trends really start to go in a better direction. As an example, the smoking trend in the United States has come down consistently over the 29 years of this report. That encourages me.”