Minnesota is the fifth-healthiest state based on 24 health factors, according to this year’s “America’s Health Rankings,” a study recently released by the United Health Foundation.
Among the factors that the study’s authors examined are the prevalence of smoking, binge drinking, and obesity; violent crime rates; infectious disease rates; percent of the population that lacks health insurance; public health funding; access to immunizations; premature birth rates; and the percentage of adults who suffer from heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
The study examines data from several sources, including the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Commerce, Education, Justice, and Labor; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Census Bureau; and the American Medical Association.
Minnesota moved up one spot from 2011, when it ranked sixth.
The report indicated that Minnesota’s sedentary lifestyle and diabetes rates are among the lowest in the nation, but the figures are still concerning: 25.7 percent of the state’s population is estimated to be obese, and 7.3 percent of adults have diabetes.
The state’s other key strengths cited in the report are low rates of premature death and deaths from cardiovascular disease and a high rate of high school graduation.
Challenges for the state include a high incidence of infectious disease, low per-capita public health funding (which has decreased from $62 per person to $43 per person over the past five years), and a high prevalence of binge drinking.
Vermont ranked first on the list, followed by Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Mississippi and Louisiana tied for the 49th spot and thus rank as the two most-unhealthy states.
From a nationwide perspective, the study found that Americans are living longer due to medical advances, but unhealthy behavior and preventable illness threaten quality of life. As a group, Americans are experiencing troubling levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and sedentary behavior.
The United Health Foundation is a not-for-profit, private foundation that Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group established in 1999. It aims to provide information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. It also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services and improve the well being of communities.
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