Connecticut is the fifth healthiest state in the nation, dropping from third a year ago, but remaining in the nation’s top 10, where it has been every year since 1993.

Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, Utah and Connecticut rank as the five healthiest states, while West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi rank the least healthy.

The United Health Foundation ranked America’s states based on a variety of health factors, such as rates of infectious diseases, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and infant mortality, as well as air pollution levels and the availability of health care providers. The survey has been conducted annually for 28 years.

America’s Health Rankings was built upon the World Health Organization definition of health:“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The model reflects that determinants of health directly influence health outcomes. A health outcomes category and four categories of health determinants are included in the model: behaviors, community & environment, policy and clinical care.

This is the first time Massachusetts has been named the healthiest state, ending Hawaii’s five-year ranking at number one. Connecticut’s highest ranking was second, in both 2006 and 2008.

By category, Connecticut ranked fourth in Behaviors, fourth in Clinical Care, sixth in Policy, tenth in Health Outcomes and 15th in Community & Environment.  Connecticut had the third lowest levels of infectious disease, fourth lowest prevalence of smoking and ninth lowest levels of obesity.

The Bay State won the honor in part due to having the lowest percentage of uninsured residents at just 2.7% of the population, plus a low prevalence of obesity and a high number of mental health providers.  Rhode Island moved from 14th to 11th; New York from 13th to 10th

This latest report shows that the nation’s health overall is getting worse.  The nation’s premature death rate — the number of years of potential life lost before age 75 — increased 3% since 2015.  That increase is driven in part by drug deaths, which increased 7% during that time, and cardiovascular deaths, which went up 2%.  Overall, the United States ranks 27th in terms of life expectancy in a comparison of 35 countries, according to the report. Long-term challenges remain — including infant mortality and low birthweight. Cardiovascular deaths and drug deaths also increased.

Connecticut’s strengths, according to the report, include the state’s low prevalence of smoking, low violent crime rate and low percentage of uninsured people.  The state’s greatest challenges include a high drug death rate, high levels of air pollution and a large disparity in health status by educational attainment.

The report also identified the following highlights:

  • In the past year, primary care physicians increased 6%, from 197.8 to 209.4 per 100,000 population
  • In the past two years, children in poverty increased 33%, from 12.3% to 16.3% of children
  • In the past five years, cancer deaths decreased 3% ,from 179.0 to 173.7 deaths per 100,000 population
  • In the past three years, drug deaths increased 67%, from 11.0 to 18.4 deaths per 100,000 population
  • In the past five years, the percentage uninsured decreased 44%, from 9.9% to 5.5% of the population

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