The 25 Unhealthiest States In America

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The United Health Foundation just released their annual America’s Health Rankings for 2012.

See the list >
The good news: As a whole, Americans are living longer

The bad news: A growing number of unhealthy habits threatens our quality of life.

The study looks at several factors including smoking, obesity, alcohol use, education, health insurance, and public health funding.

Even the nation’s healthiest state for the sixth year in a row, Vermont, is dealing with some challenges like high binge drinking among adults.

Some of the worst states featured here deal with an adult population in which 30 per cent are obese, about 30 per cent smoke, about 20 per cent binge drink, and over 35 per cent are living a sedentary lifestyle.

#24 Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania teeters on the edge of being a relatively healthy state that has moved down two spots from last year, but their stats still look pretty bad.

  • 22.4 per cent of adults smoke
  • 18.3 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 28.6 per cent of adults are obese
  • 26.2 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 80.5 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 10.9 per cent of the population does not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#23 South Dakota

This was a particularly bad year for South Dakota. The state moved up 8 spots since last year toward most unhealthiest state.

  • 23 per cent of adults smoke
  • 22.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 28.1 per cent of adults are obese
  • 27 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 81.7 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 13 per cent of the population does not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#22 Alaska

Alaska is usually thought of as being full of active people who ice-fish and scale glaciers, but that's not so true anymore:

  • 22.9 per cent of adults smoke
  • 20.8 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 27.4 per cent of adults are obese
  • 22 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 72.6 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 18.2 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#21 Montana

Montana's challenges include high occupational fatalities and low immunization coverage.

  • 22.1 per cent of adults smoke
  • 20.8 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 24.6 per cent of adults are obese
  • 24.4 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 82 per cent of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 18.2 per cent of the population does not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#20 Illinois

Seeing no real improvements, Illinois remained in the same ranking as last year.

  • 20.9 per cent of adults smoke
  • 23 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 27.1 per cent of adults are obese
  • 25.1 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 77.7 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 14.8 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#19 Delaware

Delaware still faces challenges with high rates of binge drinking, violent crimes, and low prenatal care.

  • 21.8 per cent of adults smoke
  • 20.3 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 28.8 per cent of adults are obese
  • 27 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 73.7 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 10.7 per cent of the population does not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#18 New Mexico

Although there were slight increases in the high school graduation rate, and decreases in infectious diseases, child poverty, and air pollution this year, that was not enough to get New Mexico out of the number 18 spot.

  • 21.5 per cent of adults smoke
  • 16.4 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 26.3 per cent of adults are obese
  • 25.3 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 64.8 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 20.5 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#17 North Carolina

North Carolina dropped two spots becoming healthier with strengths like low binge drinking, high immunization coverage, and low incidence of infectious disease.

  • 21.8 per cent of adults smoke
  • 15.2 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 29.1 per cent of adults are obese
  • 26.7 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 75.1 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 16.7 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#16 Florida

Even the sunny state of Florida with all its beaches has a large number people tipping the scales. Four million adults are obese, that is 1.7 million more than 10 years ago.

  • 19.3 per cent of adults smoke
  • 17.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 26.6 per cent of adults are obese
  • 26.9 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 68.9 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 20.2 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#15 Ohio

Smoking in Ohio has increased from 20.3 per cent to 22.5 per cent among the adult population during the last year.

  • 25.1 per cent of adults smoke
  • 20.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 29.7 per cent of adults are obese
  • 27 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 79.6 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 13.7 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#14 Georgia

Low graduation rates, high levels of air pollution, and a high rate of uninsured individuals bring Georgia to the number 14 spot.

  • 21.2 per cent of adults smoke
  • 16.6 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 28 per cent of adults are obese
  • 26.7 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 67.8 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 19.3 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#13 Michigan

Michigan went up 4 spots this year due to a great number of violent crimes, low public health funding, and high levels of obesity.

  • 23.3 per cent of adults smoke
  • 19.7 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 31.3 per cent of adults are obese
  • 23.6 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 75.3 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 12.7 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#12 Nevada

High School graduation rate has drastically dropped from 72.3 per cent to 56.3 per cent in the past five years.

  • 22.9 per cent of adults smoke
  • 18.6 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 24.5 per cent of adults are obese
  • 24.3 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 56.3 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 22 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#11 Tennessee

Tennessee has slightly improved and moved down two spots this year.

  • 23 per cent of adults smoke
  • 10 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 29.2 per cent of adults are obese
  • 35.1 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 77.4 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 13.9 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#10 Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, even the people. Obesity is climbing steadily in the state, and is now affecting more than 1.5 million Texans.

  • 19.2 per cent of adults smoke
  • 18.9 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 30.4 per cent of adults are obese
  • 27.2 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 75.4 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 24.2 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#9 Indiana

In the past five years the percentage of children under 18 living in poverty has increased from 18.6 per cent to 25.2 per cent in Indiana, which has moved the state up four spots since last year.

  • 25.6 per cent of adults smoke
  • 17.8 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 30.8 per cent of adults are obese
  • 29.2 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 75.2 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 12.7 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#8 Missouri

Missouri, the 'show-me' state, needs to show the country that it's paying attention to its own health. In the past year this state has moved two spots, and has one of the highest smoking rates in the country.

  • 25 per cent of adults smoke
  • 19.2 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 30.3 per cent of adults are obese
  • 28.4 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 83.1 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 14.4 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#7 Oklahoma

Oklahoma faces limited availability to primary care physicians, helping push this state to the number seven spot.

  • 26.1 per cent of adults smoke
  • 16.5 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 31.1 per cent of adults are obese
  • 31.2 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 77.3 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 17.1 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#6 Kentucky

Kentucky is the smokiest state and has increasing levels of obesity, child poverty, and uninsured people. It also leads in preventable hospitalizations and cancer deaths.

  • 29 per cent of adults smoke
  • 16.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 30.4 per cent of adults are obese
  • 29.3 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 77.6 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 14.6 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#5 Alabama

Diabetes in Alabama has doubled in the past 10 years, now affecting about half a million people in the state. People here also suffer from a high number of strokes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

  • 24.3 per cent of adults smoke
  • 13.7 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 32 per cent of adults are obese
  • 32.6 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 69.9 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 14.3 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#4 South Carolina

South Carolina moved up one spot toward unhealthiest state. In the past year children living in poverty has moved up from 17.6 per cent to 25.7 per cent, and their students have a very low graduation rate.

  • 23.1 per cent of adults smoke
  • 15.4 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 30.8 per cent of adults are obese
  • 27.2 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 66 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 19.7 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#3 West Virginia

West Virginia faces high levels of smoking, obesity, diabetes, and poor mental and physical health. It leads the pack in poor physical health days and cardiac heart disease incidence.

  • 28.6 per cent of adults smoke
  • 10.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 32.4 per cent of adults are obese
  • 35.1 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 77 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 14.2 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

#2 Arkansas

The number of adults with diabetes in Arkansas has gone up by 71 per cent in the past 10 years. Not only does the population have high levels of smoking, but they also have high levels of infectious disease and high levels of teen pregnancy.

  • 27 per cent of adults smoke
  • 14.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 30.9 per cent of adults are obese
  • 30.9 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 74 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 18 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

Tied for #1 Louisiana

Louisiana ranks in the top five states in 13 out of 24 categories including high obesity, children living in poverty, low birth weight, high population with diabetes, and high rates of cardiovascular and cancer deaths. It's not the worst at anything except heart attack rate, but it's really bad in many of the health measures used in the rankings.

  • 25.7 per cent of adults smoke
  • 16.1 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 33.4 per cent of adults are obese
  • 33.8 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 67.3 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 20.3 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

Also #1 Mississippi

Mississippi and Lousiana are tied for the number one spot of most unhealthiest state. These two states have been in the top three since the 1990 edition of America's Health Rankings.

Mississippi reins supreme for those living a sedentary lifestyle, having diabetes and being obese. These factors come together to make them also the worst ranked state for infant mortality, low birth weight and premature death.

They also have the highest teen birth rate.

  • 26 per cent of adults smoke
  • 14.2 per cent of adults binge drink
  • 34.9 per cent of adults are obese
  • 36 per cent of adults live a sedentary lifestyle
  • 62 of incoming ninth graders will graduate high school
  • 18.6 per cent of the population do not have health insurance

Source: United Health Foundation

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