The Healthiest U.S. States

After Sunset at Big Beach
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United Health Foundation has released its 26th annual health rankings, and, as always, certain states fared better than others.

What Are the Rankings?

For 26 years, the United Health Foundation has released the America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, which, according to the Foundation, “is designed to measure, report on, and improve the health of our nation.”

The 2015 report found that Americans were living less sedentary lifestyles and smoking less—both major improvements in lifestyle factors that can help prevent chronic diseases farther down the line.

Unfortunately, however, the report found that obesity and diabetes “are at all-time highs.”

Overall Healthiest State

Based on a number of measures, including rates of obesity, smoking, diabetes and physical inactivity, states were ranked for overall health.

Based on these rankings, Hawaii ranked first in the nation as the healthiest state.

The report found that Hawaii’s health strengths included “few poor mental health days, low prevalence of obesity, and low rate of preventable hospitalizations.” Immunizations among children in the age range of 19 to 35 months increased 11% in the past year, and lack of health insurance decreased 25% over the past five years.

However, as seen elsewhere in the nation, diabetes rates increased in Hawaii, too. Over the past two years, the rate of diabetes increased 26% in Hawaii, from 7.8% to 9.8% of adults.

The Top Five

Coming in second to Hawaii for overall health was Vermont, which was found to have a “low percentage of uninsured population, low violent crime rate and low infant mortality rate.” Further, deaths due to cardiovascular disease decreased by nearly half since 1990.

Third in the rankings was Massachusetts, which also has a low percentage of uninsured and a low infant mortality rate. Massachusetts is a stand-out with a low prevalence of obesity as well.

Coming in fourth was Minnesota, which has a low rate of death due to cardiovascular disease and “few poor physical health days.” Minnesota also has a low percentage of uninsured.

Rounding out the top five was New Hampshire, which ranked fifth due in part to its “high immunization coverage among children, low percentage of children in poverty and high immunization coverage among adolescents.”

Obesity Rankings

The United Health Foundation report labeled obesity as “one of the greatest health threats in the U.S., affecting more than 1 in 4 adults.”

The percentage of the U.S. adult population with obesity has steadily risen since 1990.

In terms of obesity rankings, the U.S. state with the lowest percentage of obesity was Colorado, at 21.3% of its population. Hawaii came in second, at 22.1%.

Massachusetts again came in third, at 23.3%, followed by California at 24.7% and Vermont at 24.8%.

Given that obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and many other chronic disorders like diabetes and even cancer, it is not surprising that three of the states in the top overall health rankings also stand out as having lower rates of obesity.


United Health Foundation. America’s Health Rankings 2015 Annual Report. Accessible online at

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). World Health Organization fact sheet. Accessed at on June 9, 2014.

Juonala M, Magnussen CG, Berenson GS, Venn A, et al. Childhood adiposity, adult adiposity, and cardiovascular risk factors. N Engl J Med 2011; 365:1876-1885.

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