Foundation: Utah remains the nation's sixth healthiest state
With its low prevalence of smoking, binge drinking, obesity and diabetes, Utah ranks 6th in the United Health Foundation's annual health ranking of states.
Utah's ranking is unchanged from last year. Hawaii ranked as the nation's healthiest state, bumping last year's leader, Vermont, to second place, followed by Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the top five.
Mississippi ranked 50th, preceded by Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and West Virginia as the five least healthy states.
To see the full rankings, go to http://www.americashealthrankings.org. The data used to rank the states is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, FBI, Dartmouth Atlas Project, U.S. Department of Education and the Census Bureau.
Utah's additional strengths include a low prevalence of physical inactivity and of preventable hospitalizations.
Such overall rankings can mask health disparities among residents. For example, Utah has the lowest smoking rate in the nation at 10.6 percent of the adult population but more than 190,000 adults still smoke, and residents with lower income, fewer years of formal education and some minority groups have significantly higher smoking rates.
The United Health Foundation's report also notes 56.7 percent of Utah adults with at least a high school education report their health is very good or excellent, compared to 22.6 percent of those with less than a high school education.
Other challenges include high rates of drug deaths and pertussis infections in Utah and limited access to primary care physicians.
In the past year, the prevalence of diabetes increased from 6.7 percent to 7.2 percent of the adult population, the report said.
The report noted national successes in the past year:
• Smoking dropped from 21.2 percent of the adult population to 19.6 percent. Seventeen states had significant drops in smoking, with the largest seen in Nevada, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Vermont.
• Physical inactivity dropped from 26.2 percent of the adult population to 22.9 percent.
• America's obesity rate remained approximately the same as reported in 2012, at 27.6 percent of the adult population in 2013. This marks the first time since 1998 that obesity rates have not worsened.
"This report is an important tool for designing meaningful programs to address our biggest challenges and to help us measure the progress we've made in our efforts to date," said Laurine Tibaldi, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare of Utah, in a statement.
America's Health Rankings have been compiled annually for 24 years. The not-for-profit, private United Health Foundation was created in 1999 by UnitedHealth Group. UnitedHealthcare, one of its businesses, provides more than 40 million people with health benefits.
Read the report
Find United Health Foundation's 2013 America's Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities at http://www.americashealthrankings.org.