Study Ranks Minnesota as the Sixth-Healthiest State

The state scored well for its low uninsured population, but the frequency of binge drinking-as well as low public health funding-kept Minnesota from topping the list.

Minnesota placed sixth among states in a health ranking study conducted by the United Health Foundation.

The state-which also ranked sixth in last year's study-lost to Vermont, which was named healthiest, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Hawaii. Minnesota topped the list in 2006.

The annual study, called “America's Health Rankings,” assesses the nation's health on a state-by-state basis, collecting data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, U.S. Department of Education, and the Census Bureau.

Minnesota scored well for its low rate of occupational fatalities, low rate of uninsured population, low premature death rate, high rate of high school graduation, low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease, and few sick days each month.

Areas that Minnesota could improve on include prevalence of binge drinking and smoking, as well as low public health funding. The study found that more Minnesotans are binge drinking-20 percent of the adult population compared to 17.2 percent last year. The state ranked 46th in the nation for public health funding, at $45 per person. Hawaii, which ranked first in the category, spends $235 per person.

The study indicates that the nation as a whole has gotten healthier, but that is offset by an increasing number of obesity and diabetes cases, a growing number of children in poverty, and lack of health insurance for an estimated 51 million people.

Established by Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group in 1999, the United Health Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to studying and improving health trends. UnitedHealth Group bills itself as the nation's biggest health insurer, and it's Minnesota's largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $87 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.