Study: N.H. 3rd healthiest state

New Hampshire is the third healthiest state in the country, behind top-ranked Vermont and second-place Massachusetts, according to a study conducted by the United Health Foundation. The foundation’s 2010 America’s Health Rankings gave the Granite State high marks for its relatively low percentage of children in poverty, low violent crime rate, ready access to early prenatal care and low rate of uninsured population. The ranking of third is a notch higher than the fourth it received in the same study in 2009. New Hampshire was also praised for having the lowest teen birth rate in the country, with 20 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19. It also held second-best scores in several other measures, including geographic disparity (variation among the overall mortality rates among the counties within a state) and preterm births earlier than 37 weeks gestation. The report also pointed out what it called “challenges” to the state’s health status, including “moderate” public health funding at $63 per person. By comparison, Hawaii spends more than any other state in the country on public health funding, at $235 per person. New Hampshire was also flagged for a “moderate prevalence of binge drinking,” at 16.1 percent of the population, as compared to Utah, which reported the lowest rate of binge drinking, 8.6 percent. The state’s “moderate” rate of cancer deaths, at 196.2 deaths per 100,000 population, also kept New Hampshire out of the top spot. Again, Utah reported the fewest deaths attributed to cancer, at 142 per 100,000 population. The Granite State did show significant improvement in the rate of deaths due to cardiovascular disease, moving from 255.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2009 to 246.1 in 2010. Prevalence of smoking over the past five years also dropped, from 21.7 percent to 15.7 percent of the population. Obesity rates, however, increased over the last 10 years, from 15.7 in 1990 to 21.7 percent of the population in 2010. Elsewhere in New England, Connecticut ranked fourth in the nation, Maine ranked eighth overall, and Rhode Island ranked 10th. Mississippi was ranked as the least healthy state in the country at 50th, with a high prevalence of obesity, a high percentage of children in poverty, a high rate of preventable hospitalizations, and a high infant mortality rate. The report may be viewed at – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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