If you’re looking for an excuse to move to Hawaii, here it is: The Aloha State is the healthiest and happiest state in the country, according to a new report by America’s Health Rankings. Of course, with an average winter temperature of 78 degrees, and 271 days of sun per year, that’s not entirely surprising. But with a remarkably low prevalence of obesity and “preventable hospitalizations,” the last state to join the union deserves its place at the top of the public health and happiness list.
To complete their rankings, researchers analyzed more than 30 public health markers from each state, including obesity, smoking, diabetes, exercise, air pollution, cancer mortality, drug deaths, public health funding, and alcoholism. When the dust settled, Hawaii was the clear winner, but it wasn’t the only one with impressive public health statistics. Rounding out the top ten are Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut (Go New England!), Utah, Colorado, Washington, and Nebraska. As for the lowest ranking states, let’s just say that the South has seen healthier days. Nineteen of the bottom 20 states are located south of the Mason Dixon.
But just because there’s room for improvement in states like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana (which came in 48th, 49th, and 50th, respectively), that doesn’t mean that it’s all bad. Louisiana, for example, has comparatively low levels of air pollution, and ranks in the top 10 for adolescent immunizations. Mississippi, meanwhile, enjoys a low rate of drug-related deaths. Similarly, many states at the top of the list face significant public health challenges. Indeed, all top five finishers suffer from a prevalence of excessive drinking.
How does your state stack up? You can find the complete rankings here.