Practice Economics

Hawaii healthiest U.S. state in 2015, North Carolina most improved



For the fourth year in a row, Hawaii was named the healthiest state in America by the United Health Foundation in the 2015 edition of “America’s Health Rankings.”

A low obesity prevalence, low rate of preventable hospitalizations, few poor mental health days, and an 11% increase in immunization among children aged 19-35 months in 2015 helped make Hawaii the healthiest state over second-ranked Vermont. Massachusetts ranked third, with Minnesota and New Hampshire rounding out the top five.

At the other end of the list, Louisiana replaced Mississippi as the least healthy state in 2015. Mississippi rose by one spot to 49th, however, followed by Arkansas at 48th, West Virginia at 47th, and Alabama at 46th.

The most improved state for 2015 was North Carolina, moving six spots up from 37th to 31st. Other states that saw significant moves upward were Maine, Washington, Delaware, and Kentucky. The largest decline was by Oregon, which dropped eight spots to 20th from 12th. New Mexico, Alabama, North Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia also made considerable downward movements.

Overall, the United States saw a significant decrease in preventable hospitalizations, physical inactivity, smoking, cardiovascular deaths, and infant mortality, and an increase in recommended vaccination coverage. Obesity rates increased, however, as did diabetes rates, drug deaths, and children living in poverty, and no progress was made in reducing premature deaths.

America’s Health Rankings” is a joint effort by the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association. It is funded entirely by the private, not-for-profit United Health Foundation, founded by UnitedHealth Group, which operates UnitedHealthcare.

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