The United Health Foundation has just released the 2011 edition of America's Health Rankings, and once again, Vermont comes out on top as the healthiest state in the country.
If you feel like you've heard this before, it might be because Vermont has claimed a sort of health-ranking dominance in the past few years. Our state has come out on top in four out of the past five years, and hasn't finished lower than fourth since 2002. Vermont hasn't always been on top of the heap, languishing between positions 10 and 20 in the 1990s before shooting up to the top in the aughts.
Why is Vermont so healthy? The United Health Foundation credits Vermont's high rates of both early prenatal care and graduation from high school, coupled with few infectious diseases and violent crimes. Vermont's love of local, healthy food helps (#1 in the Diet, Fruit & Vegetables ranking), as do the seemingly bottomless opportunities for active outdoor recreation (#2 in the Physical Activity ranking). Oh, and there are no Chick-fil-A restaurants in Vermont. Just sayin'.
We're not completely in the clear, though. The United Health Foundation warns that Vermont ranks highly for binge drinking, and that immunization coverage could be a lot better. (See "Health Care Providers Take a Shot at Increasing Immunizations," from the November 2 issue of Seven Days.)
Overall, New England had a good showing in the health rankings. New Hampshire came in second, and the rest of the New England states all landed in the top 10. Mississippi has the dubious distinction of being named the country's least healthy state, with Louisiana not far behind. You can see each state's breakdown visually on this cool interactive map.
Below, check out an infographic designed by the United Health Foundation, breaking down the key numbers in Vermont's state health ranking.