Massachusetts is the healthiest state in America – despite seeing the fastest rise in drug overdose deaths this year, a major report has declared.
The annual rankings from United Health Foundation assess 35 different factors, from smoking and obesity rates to pollution, concentration of doctors, and causes of death.
Researchers promoted Massachusetts from second place to first this year, ending Hawaii’s five-year reign.
One of the key factors is the unprecedented scale of people with healthcare coverage: the Northeastern state has the lowest rate of uninsured citizens (just 2.7 percent), as well as scant obesity, and huge decreases in child poverty and smoking.
The state also holds the distinction of the most mental health providers per capita in the country – an irony, given the high rate of drug deaths, which is so tightly linked to poor mental health.
For the second year in a row, Mississippi was classed the least healthy state, due to its high prevalence of smoking, obesity, and child poverty as well as a significant lack in the amount of doctors per capita.
The ‘bottom 10’ consists entirely of states in the impoverished South: Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Georgia.
Massachusetts is the healthiest and Mississippi the least healthy state according to the annual ranking by United Health Foundation (pictured)
Alabama was singled out as the state with the poorest mental health care, given the low concentration of therapists.
The rest of the bottom 10 had the classic woes that have blighted Appalachia and the rest of rural America for years, but do not seem to be budging. Chief among those are a low rate of people with health insurance, high smoking rates, and crippling obesity.
However, the top 10 states were not spotless.
Massachusetts saw a 69 percent increase in drug deaths – the fastest increase of any state this year as the nation battles a deadly opioid addiction epidemic.
Utah, which came fourth, was singled out as the most improved state alongside Florida, each rising four places to number four and number 32 respectively.
However, Utah has simultaneously seen the greatest increase in cardiovascular deaths, up 10 percent since 2012.
Meanwhile, Louisiana saw huge drops in cardiovascular deaths and cancer rates, despite ranking second-least-healthy and seeing huge increases in drug deaths.
North Dakota experienced the largest rank decline, falling seven places to number 18. Its increases in smoking rates and Salmonella, as well as a drop in immunizations among children, were singled out as red flags.
TOP 10: THE HEALTHIEST STATES
- New Hampshire
- New York
BOTTOM 10: THE LEAST HEALTHY STATES
- West Virginia
- South Carolina