How is Health Measured?
Health can be defined and measured in many different ways. The World Health Organization defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
According to America’s Health Rating, health is measured by data in the following areas: behaviors, quality of health care, policy, the presence of disease, and deaths from illnesses. This is the data that is used to provide the breakdown of each state’s level of health as reported in the World Population Review. Another piece of data that contributes to the health of each state is median household income.
Considering that the United States is one of the wealthiest nations, it may be surprising that the Nation does not come in very high on most health measures. The U.S. is dead last of the 11 wealthiest nations for healthcare systems. Although the U.S. spends the most on healthcare, it falls horribly short in most measures of health when compared to comparable countries.
Top 5 Healthiest States
Vermont is the healthiest state with high scores in public health funding of $157 per person. They also have almost 400 physicians per 100,000 people. Their overall state of health is rounded out by low instances of smoking and obesity across the adult population.
Massachusetts and Connecticut come in second and fourth, solidifying the Northeast as a healthy part of the country. Both states report good obesity scores in the adult population. Connecticut scores well with immunizations in both the adult and pediatric populations. Massachusetts boasts the lowest uninsured population score of only 3%.
For warmer climates Hawaii and Utah comes in at 3rd and 5th place, rounding out the top five. Hawaii scores high in its health policy, and public health funding comes in at $205 per person. Hawaii is also well known for its gorgeous weather and scenery that provide ample opportunity for physical activity on both land and water. Utah rounds it out with the lowest smoking rate at only 7.9%.
All 5 states have decent median household incomes over $70,000. However, Hawaii stands out as having an extremely high cost of living due to being an island and needing to have a majority of products imported. As a whole, higher median incomes mean that families in the state are not struggling for basic necessities like food and healthcare.
What About Mental Health?
As the WHO points out, health is more than the absence of illness and disease. One factor that is not measured by this data is mental health. Mental Health America has a scoring based on the prevalence of mental illness and access to mental health care.
The top 5 states with the best mental health for adults are Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and Maryland. The top 5 states for youth are The District of Colombia, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.