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Massachusetts is the healthiest state in the US: Report

New health rankings put Massachusetts in the top spot this year for the first time ever.
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Wednesday will be a good day to spend some time outside. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / Allan Leonard

Massachusetts is the healthiest state in the country, according to a report published Tuesday by the United Health Foundation.

The Bay State dethroned Hawaii, which held the top spot for the past five years, in the foundation’s 28th annual report.

Called “America’s Health Rankings,” the report assessed the nation’s health state-by-state, looking at factors like health policies, environment and behaviors. It’s a joint effort by the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association.

This year, Massachusetts moved up from last year’s No. 2 spot thanks to the low percentage of uninsured people here, the low prevalence of obesity and high vaccination rates.

The report analyzed 35 measures in total to create the rankings, including details on everything from the percentage of adults who smoke, the air pollution levels and the amount of children living in poverty.

Along with earning the top ranking overall, Massachusetts was No.1 when it came to how many young children and adolescents received immunizations, having the lowest percentage of the population uninsured at just 2.7 percent, the number of dentists per 100,000 people and the number of health providers per 100,000 people.

The report also noted that the number of adults in Massachusetts who smoke dropped from 18.2 percent of all adults to 13.6 percent over the last five years.

“This report highlights the notable progress that our state is making to improve the health and wellbeing of every individual living in the commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “Massachusetts is proud to have the lowest number of uninsured residents in the country and robust public health efforts, and our administration will keep working across all levels of government to ensure quality healthcare and a safe, healthy environment for our residents to live, work and play.”

Even though Massachusetts is at the top, there was still an increase in drug deaths here, according to the report, showing that the epidemic is affecting even the healthiest states. In the past five years, Massachusetts saw a 69 percent increase in drug deaths, or an addition of 8-plus deaths per 100,000 people.

The nation as a whole also saw an increase in the premature death rate, which measures the risk of dying before reaching age 75, for the third year in a row, and an increase in cardiovascular deaths for the second year in a row.

Behind Massachusetts came Hawaii in second place, followed my Vermont, Utah and Connecticut in that order for the top five healthiest states.

The least healthy state was Mississippi, which ranked at the 50th spot for the second consecutive year. Louisiana came in 49th, Arkansas in 48th, Alabama in 47th and West Virginia in the 46th spot.