Hawaii ranked as healthiest state in U.S.

Published On: Dec 11 2013 08:48:00 AM HST

Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, according to United Health Foundation's 2013 America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

According to the 24th Edition of America's Health Rankings, Hawaii ranks No. 1 this year when compared with other states. The 2013 report illustrates Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

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The report says Hawaii's strengths are a low prevalence of smoking and obesity, high immunization coverage among children, and a low rate of preventable hospitalizations.

However, the report says some of Hawaii's challenges are a high prevalence of binge drinking, low high school graduation rate and a high incidence of Salmonella infections.

"I'm proud that our public health efforts have helped us attain the number one spot," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. "A closely linked initiative, health care transformation, focuses on excellence and cost-effectiveness in our health care delivery and payment systems so that Hawaii can enjoy the best health and health care for years to come."

"Marking steady improvement over the last three years, Hawaii's No. 1 ranking is encouraging and reminds us how fortunate we are to live in the Aloha State. Today's honor is reflective of the Abercrombie Administration’s priority focus on health issues," said Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy.  "Even with our top ranking, there are serious public health challenges ahead of us and we cannot afford to be complacent with the issues of childhood obesity, chronic disease, mental health, and protecting our environment."

Hawaii has taken the title of healthiest state.  Vermont, last year's reported No. 1 state, is ranked second this year and has ranked among the top five states for the last decade.  Minnesota is third, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Mississippi ranks 50th this year, and Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Alabama (47) and West Virginia (46) complete the five least healthy states.

Click here to see the full rankings.

Nationwide, Americans improved in a majority of the measures captured by the rankings. The most notable gains came in key behavioral measures, including smoking, physical activity and obesity.

Notable gains in key behavioral measures included smoking, which 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, and America’s obesity rate remained approximately the same as reported in 2012 (27.6 percent of the adult population in 2013 compared with 27.8 percent in 2012). This marks the first time since 1998 that obesity rates have not worsened.

When it comes to improving the nation’s health, there is still much to be done. Obesity has leveled off; however, it must remain a top priority. With the current rate of physical inactivity and the diabetes rate at 9.7 percent, there is still considerable room for improvement in these key health measures. The drop in smoking rates is encouraging, but the report shows nearly one in five adults still smoke.

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