Hawaii is healthiest

Hawaii has claimed the title of the healthiest state, according to a study released last week by the United Health Foundation.

America’s Health Rankings for 2013 saw Hawaii take the title of healthiest state from Vermont.

Among four measured areas – smoking, obesity rates, physical inactivity and rates of diabetes – Hawaii ranked in the top percentiles.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing everything right. For example, the study says we are third lowest in rates of obesity (a body mass index of 30 or higher) but there are still 250,000 obese residents of Hawaii.

Another area where we made significant progress was smoking. Our percentage of adults who smoke dropped from 16.8 percent to 14.6 percent (again, third best in the country) – but there are still 150,000 smokers in the state.

One thing that we found interesting is that while there is no definite geographic pattern to the healthiest states, almost all the unhealthiest are in the southern United States. Mississippi is 50th, or the least healthy.

To get back to Hawaii, though, the study cites our high immunization coverage of children and low rate of preventable hospitalizations as strengths. Our weaknesses are too much binge drinking and a low high school graduation rate.

To that last point, the study notes a huge disparity in the health-education link:

“In Hawaii, 48.2 percent of adults aged 25 years and older with at least a high school education report their health is very good or excellent compared to only 28.0 percent with less than a high school education, resulting in a gap of 20.2 percent.”

All the more reason to continue working to improve education – and graduation rates – in the state.

You may view the entire study at: www.americashealthrankings.org.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.