Oooh, good news! Connecticut moved up to the 4th overall spot in United Health Foundation’s ranking of healthiest states. Why? Well, we have some major strengths: low smoking rates (<20% of the population), high childhood immunization rates (almost 75% of adolescents have been immunized), and measurable improvements in lifestyle risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity over the last 2 years.
In fact, many of our health risk factors are among the lowest in the nation and contribute to our high ranking. As you can see from the included schematic, factors in green contribute positively (i.e., beneficially) to our high ranking, whereas factors in red diminish our overall health. The size of the bubble for each factor indicates the impact that measure has on our overall ranking.
For example, while obesity, smoking and violent crime all contribute meaningfully to our health (the size of the bubble), they have less of a negative impact in CT than in other states. Only higher than expected rates of binge drinking (18% of adults report having more than 4-5 drinks on a regular basis) and minimal public health funding really bring us down relative to other states.
But it’s not a completely rosy picture. Connecticut continues to have large disparities in health status by income and education, and the report notes that “since 1990, children in poverty increased by 66 percent from 9.2 percent to 15.3 percent of children.” Working to diminish the health inequalities tied to income and education will go hand in hand with many of the other social, economic and environmental issues related to schools, affordable housing, and well-paying jobs.
One final point: It’s worth noting that, since I am heading there next week… the top ranked state for overall health is Hawaii. Aloha!!