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Minnesota is the 4th healthiest state: What we do well, and where we're struggling

One negative in the report: Minnesotans tend to drink a lot.

Minnesota is again one of the healthiest states in the country, but there's still room for improvement.

It came in at No. 4 on the annual America's Health Rankings Report, which is published by Minnesota-based United Health Foundation. That's the same spot as last year. The state has ranked in the top 10 since the report launched in 1990.

Hawaii was named the healthiest state in the nation for the fifth consecutive year. Massachusetts came in at No. 2, followed by Connecticut at No. 3 and Vermont at No. 5.

The states at the bottom: Mississippi at No. 50, followed by Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma.

Some good, and some bad

The state-by-state report looks at behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, clinical care and outcomes data to show how the nation's health is doing, and the progress states have made.

And this year's report highlights some positive changes.

The number of people who smoke has gone down 41 percent since 1990; preventable hospitalizations are down; and the number of uninsured Americans has dropped 35 percent in the past five years – marking the lowest point in the report's history.

But there are some concerning challenges:

  • After a 26-year decline, the number of cardiovascular deaths nationwide has increased from 250.8 to 251.7 deaths per 100,000 people. (Minnesota's cardiovascular death rate is the lowest in the nation at 188.2 deaths per 100,000 people.)
  • In the past five years, the rate of drug deaths has gone up 9 percent, including 4 percent in the past year. Minnesota is one of the states with the fewest drug deaths.
  • The rate of premature death has gone up for the second consecutive year, which the report says suggests a troubling trend.
  • And the number of adults who are obese has gone up 157 percent since the report was first published in 1990.

A closer look at Minnesota

The report goes into detail about the strengths and weaknesses of each state. Here are some highlights (you can read all the details here):

  • Despite having a low rate of drug deaths compared to other states, the number of drug-related deaths in the past five years has still gone up by 31 percent – from 7.1 to 9.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Minnesota has a high prevalence of excessive drinking: 21.1 percent of adults are said to be excessive drinkers, putting Minnesota among the states with the most heavy drinkers (No. 45 out of 50).
  • Child poverty in Minnesota has gone down by 33 percent in the past year, from 11.9 percent to 8 percent of children.
  • More people are getting vaccines. For example, in the past year, the number of teens to get a meningococcal immunization has gone up by 11 percent, from 75.5 percent to 83.6 percent.
  • Minnesota ranks No. 9 out of 50 for states with the lowest percentage of people who are physically inactive (21.8 percent).
  • Minnesota doesn't have a lot of public health funding – only $47 per person, while the No. 1 state's funding equals $261 per person.

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