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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » VERMONT » Vermont – The Healthiest State in the Nation
Bristol Pond, Bristol, Vermont     BY: Lené Gary
Vermont – The Healthiest State in the Nation

Vermont tops United Health Foundation Survey

By Brian Scott-Smith | January 09, 2012

It seems that depending on where you live in the US can determine how healthy you are, and New England demonstrates yet again why it’s a great place to live and visit.


For twenty-two years the United Health Foundation has undertaken a survey to measure the health of the fifty States of the Nation.   And for the fourth time the State of Vermont has that magical number one place as the Nation’s healthiest State.

So how have they achieved this, and what’s so special about Vermont? Reed Tuckson is the M.D of the United Health Foundation, creators of the survey.

“This is clear evidence of the commitment that the individuals, communities, health care providers, the private sector, and Vermont’s government institutions to creating and sustaining conditions that promote health. Vermont, like all states, has an opportunity to further improve, particularly in the areas of binge drinking and immunization rates.”

So it’s not all about the wide open spaces, fresh air and exercise that Vermonter’s can enjoy from the beautiful surroundings they live in.

The survey takes into account four categories.   Behaviors, like smoking, drinking etc., and Community & Environment, crime, infectious disease and poverty to name a few. Then there is Public & Health Policies, lack of health insurance, immunization coverage and so forth, and finally Clinical Care, with Primary Care and Prenatal care being two of the criteria.

Obesity is on the Rise

Additionally, the survey is adjusted to take into account the age of each State’s population, making sure that the numbers, which are turned in to percentages are fair to all States, regardless of the size and demographic of their particular population.

And the survey certainly seems to work. Vermont was number twenty back in 1990, but has slowly crept up the leader board until it ranked number one in 2009 - a position it has held ever since.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is understandably proud of Vermont’s success, “This is a time to celebrate and learn from our successes to meet the great health challenges ahead. We still have much work to make health reform a reality for every Vermonter.”

And that challenge is a common one for all States in the Nation. With smoking slowly on the decline making for a healthier nation, incidents of obesity and diabetes are increasing, with one in four American’s now obese, putting pressure on health systems.

But education and job prospects also play a major role too and the North-East is fortunate in these two areas as well.

Vermont is ranked second highest for high school graduation, and at the time of the survey had 5.9% unemployment, considerably below the [then] national average of 8.3%.

And combine that with an average medium household income of nearly $56,000 a year compared to the US national average of $49,445, that extra income clearly adds to people’s standards of living.

The United Health Foundation Survey Map

But Vermont is not alone in the rankings, all six of the New England States scored in the top ten this year.

Neighbor New Hampshire moved up a place from third to number two in 2011, with Connecticut taking third, moving up from fourth in 2010.

Massachusetts made fifth place, slipping from second place last year.   Maine maintained its eight healthiest place ranking for the second year and Rhode Island came in at number ten this year, a non-mover for the last few years at that ranking.

It certainly seems that living and working in the North East has its advantages, and the New England States are setting and maintaining standards for its communities.

And looking at the wider map of healthy States, many of the larger ones, like Texas and Nevada, both in the bottom ten, struggle with health and poverty issues not helped by their sheer size, and accessibility to services by their communities as a result.

And as for California, the State that likes to claim to be healthy and a great place to live, it ranked number twenty- four this year, and had the bottom ranking for air pollution as well as a bottom ten ranking for poverty, poor health and income disparity.

So as they say, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if the sun shines there more often.

For more details about the survey, and to visit an interactive map showing the results, visit:- http://statehealthstats.americashealthrankings.org/#/country/US/2011/Overall-State-Ranking.

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