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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hawaii healthiest, NH fifth best state

Joe Marchilena

I’m sure there are plenty of reasons one might want to take a trip to Hawaii.

Time to add one more to the list, as the 50th state was named the healthiest in the country this week, according to rankings released by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention. The rankings were compiled using information from the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Census Bureau and the FBI, to name a few. ...

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I’m sure there are plenty of reasons one might want to take a trip to Hawaii.

Time to add one more to the list, as the 50th state was named the healthiest in the country this week, according to rankings released by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention. The rankings were compiled using information from the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Census Bureau and the FBI, to name a few.

Some reasons for the No. 1 ranking include fewer smokers in the state, a decrease in violent crime and infant mortality rate and the lowest rate of preventable hospitalizations. But it’s not all good news in Hawaii – the state also ranks high in binge drinking.

Want to live healthier, but can’t make it to Hawaii? Don’t worry, you currently reside in perhaps the healthiest region of the country.

Three New England states are in the top five – Vermont is second, Massachusetts is fourth and New Hampshire is fifth. Connecticut isn’t too far behind, coming in seventh, which begs the question, what’s wrong with you, Maine and Rhode Island?

So why does the Granite State rank so high on the list? In the last 10 years, the rate of heart-related disease deaths has gone down by 42 percent, and fewer adults are smoking, down 2.2 percent to 17.2. Those of you who decided to quit smoking in 2013 and stuck with it, good for you.

There is some bad news – New Hampshire’s rate of childhood poverty has increased over the last five years from 6.5 to 10.9 percent.

In Massachusetts, the number of adult smokers, and heart-related disease deaths, has dropped, and the state’s obesity rate is one of the lowest in the country. Vermont also saw a drop in smoking and heart-related disease deaths, but whooping cough incidences increased over the last year, from 2.9 cases per 100,000 people to 15.1.

The rest of the top 10 includes Minnesota (third), Utah (sixth), Colorado (eighth), North Dakota (ninth) and – surprise, surprise – New Jersey (10th), even though more people are smoking and more people are obese in the state.

So if the Northeast leads the way in healthiest states, where are the unhealthiest states? Exactly where you’d think those states would be - the South.

Mississippi is the unhealthiest state, where exercise rates are low and more 770,000 adults are obese and 280,000 have diabetes. Next on the list is Arkansas (49th), Louisiana (48th), Alabama (47th), West Virginia (46th) and Kentucky (45th). Oklahoma jumps in at 44th, but South Carolina (43rd) and Tennessee (42nd) are also in the bottom 10.

Overall, the number of people dying from cancer and heart-related disease has decreased since 1990, the percentage of adults in the country who are obese is at 27.6 percent. While that number is down two-tenths of a percent from 2012, it’s still more than one in four adults.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 673-7123 or email hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.