NEWPORT – Vermont is once again the healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation’s newly released America’s Health Rankings annual report.
The state moved up three steps to reclaim the top spot in the Foundation’s 30th year documenting the nation’s health trends, challenges and opportunities.
For nearly two decades, Vermont has ranked among the top five healthiest states, according to the Foundation’s 35 core measures, including health behaviors and outcomes, clinical care, policy impacts, as well as community, environmental and socio-economic factors.
“Vermont’s place at the top of this list reflects our commitment to health in all 251 communities,” said Governor Phil Scott. “While there is always room for improvement, our position as the healthiest in the nation speaks to the high quality of life we offer in Vermont.”
Vermont’s data reflects an improvement of 44 places in health disparities among state rankings.
Health disparities are an indicator of differences that may occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education, income, disability, geographic location and sexual orientation among others.
“I’m particularly pleased with the steady progress we have made in reducing the rate of adult obesity and smoking, increases in childhood immunization rates and physical activity, and in our significant gains in reducing health disparities among Vermonters,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD.
The report also focuses on the health challenges Vermont faces.
Deaths related to drug and other substance misuse continue to rise, as well as the rates of chronic conditions like diabetes, and risk for vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis.
“We are number one overall, but in some measures, relative to other states, we may only be doing less badly,” said Dr. Levine.
Levine cited the rapid rise of vaping among young people as a threat to decades of progress against tobacco use, and the need to further impact increases in chronic diseases and cancer-related deaths.
“We will look deeply into this data, to continue our strategic plans and programmatic efforts to build on our successes and to reverse the trends that negatively impact the health and well-being of all Vermonters,” Levine added.