Vermont tops America's Health Rankings: Which state's last?
(CBS) Are your state's citizens healthy? United Health Foundation unveiled its annual America's Health Rankings Tuesday, which pegged states with the best and worst health in 2011.
For the rankings, the Foundation reviewed state data on rates for obesity, smoking, disease, hospitalizations, and poverty. For the fifth straight year, Vermont took the top spot as the healthiest state.
But overall, America's health has much room for improvement.
After three straight years of gains, the country's overall health saw no improvement between 2010 and 2011, the report showed. To put that in perspective, past rankings showed an improvement of at least 0.5 percent every year from 2000 to 2010, and an annual improvement of 1.6 percent throughout the 1990s.
What's going wrong with Americans' health?
The 2011 report showed such a "dramatic" increase in obesity and diabetes that it canceled out other improvements. Every person who quit smoking in 2011 was offset by a person who became obese, the report found. 2011 was also the first year in which every state reported at least 20 percent of its population was obese.
That trend could get worse. Experts estimate by 2030, more than half of Americans will be obese, CBS News reported.
"It is very easy to get access to a $1 cheeseburger, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Dr. Reed Tuckson, chief of medical affairs for UnitedHealth Group, told Fox News. "It's much more difficult to get access to a $1 tomato."
The report also showed an increase in the obesity-related disease diabetes, up from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011.
Has the economic downturn played a role in the country's health? The report showed almost a 4 percent increase in the number of children who live in poverty - up to 22 percent overall.
Not all findings were bleak. The report showed fewer Americans died from heart disease, and fewer Americans are smoking. The number of preventable hospitalizations also dropped across the country.
"While this year's Rankings shows some important improvements, we also see some very alarming trends - particularly diabetes and obesity - that, left unchecked, will put further strain on our country's already strained health care resources," Dr. Tuckson said in a written statement. "At a time when the nation, states and individual families are grappling with tightening budgets and growing health care expenses, this year's Rankings sends a loud wakeup call that the burden of preventable chronic disease will continue to get worse unless we take urgent action."
Besides Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Hawaii , and Massachusetts rounded out the top 5 healthiest states.
Which states were least healthy? Click here to find out...
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