Massachusetts is 4th in the Nation for Overall Health

Vermont grabbed the top spot and all of New England is in the top 10.

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Massachusetts consistently ranks as one of the fittest and healthiest states in the country. This year, we took the No. 4 spot in the United Health Foundation’s “America’s Health Rankings” released Tuesday. That’s three spots higher than last year. The rankings take into account things like obesity, smoking, violent crime, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and other factors. Mississippi and Louisiana tied for 49th as the least healthy states.

Vermont, which was ranked 20th in 1990, took the top spot this year, and New Hampshire came in at number three. All of New England made the top 10. Massachusetts, which was ranked number two overall in 2010, came in third in obesity, sixth in diabetes, and ninth in smoking, an area that can certainly be improved. One of Massachusetts’s lowest scores was binge drinking, but with all of the universities in our area, that can be expected.

The rankings show data as far back an 1990, and the changes are amazing. For example, in 1990, 29.5 percent of the population smoked. In 2011, it was only 17.3 percent. Other interesting national changes include lower air pollution, 13.2 micrograms of fine particles in 2003 to 10.5 micrograms per cubic meter in 2012. Also, since 1990, cardiovascular deaths have declined 35 percent, from 405.1 deaths in 1990 to 264.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2012.

One area where the United States needs improvement is obesity. In 1990, 11.6 percent of the population was obese. In 2011, it was 27.5 percent. The same goes for diabetes. The number has nearly doubled since 1996, starting at 4.4 percent that year and rising to 8.7 percent in 2011. The estimate percentage for 2012 is 9.5 percent.

For the perfectionists out there, don’t worry too much that we are “only” ranked 4th. New York is ranked 18th.