CONCORD — The Granite State received a second-place ranking for healthiest state in the country for its low percentage of children in poverty, high immunization rate and low rate of crime.
Vermont is number one for the fifth year in a row. Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts rounded out the rest of the top five healthiest states, according to United Health Foundation's 2011 America's Health Rankings, released Dec. 5.
The report looked at various health indicators, such as obesity and smoking rates, and ranked all the states based on the data.
Last year, New Hampshire was ranked third.
"We are in general a healthy state," said José© Montero, Department of Health and Human Services director of public health. "We know there is work to be done, especially in the area of chronic diseases."
Montero cited increasing obesity, a high smoking rate and a rapidly increasing number of people diagnosed with diabetes.
"We can and must do better," he said.
The report looks at a wide range of indicators including heart disease deaths, cancer rates, the percentage of patients who receive prenatal care, the premature birth rate, the number of residents without health insurance and more. The scores are calculated to determine an overall ranking.
While the percentage of Granite Staters who smoke has been steadily decreasing, the number of those who are overweight or obese has been climbing dramatically since 1990.
"It is extremely important to maintain a healthy weight," Montero said, "and to be physically active to improve our overall health."
Diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, arthritis and other diseases are directly linked to poor diet, excess weight and lack of exercise.
"With the New Year, we should all make a resolution to eat a healthier diet and move more," Montero said. "Even small changes, such as a 10 percent drop in body weight and walking 15 minutes more a day, can have a big impact."
To read the entire report, visit healthyamericans.org. For tips on getting healthy, visit dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/obesity.htm.
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