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Vermont Named Healthiest State, But What’s the Unhealthiest?

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amyashcraft, Flickr

If you live in Vermont, congratulations — for the fifth year in a row, your state has been named as the healthiest in the country.

The United Health Foundation’s 2011 America’s Health Rankings, released Monday, also put New Hampshire, Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts in the top five.

For the past 20 years, the group has used data from sources like the Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Education to rank states using criteria including the best and worst rates of smoking, binge drinking, diabetes, high school graduation, immunization, prenatal care and obesity.

The least healthy state? Mississippi, which has held the dubious honors since 2002, due in part to a high prevalence of obesity, high percentage of children living in poverty and a high infant mortality rate. Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama made up the other bottom five states.

Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey showed the most substantial improvements over last year’s report. Both moved up six slots, to 18th and 11th respectively, mainly because of how many people quit smoking in those states.

But after three years of gains, the US overall showed no progress in improved health this year. While smoking and preventable hospitalizations dropped modestly, there were major increases in obesity and diabetes.

In a statement, Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in part, “Addressing the leading causes of these largely preventable diseases is essential if we are going to improve the nation’s health.”

[America's Health Rankings]

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