Minnesota ranks second healthiest

Although healthier than other states overall, Minnesota needs to address obesity.

According to America’s Health Rankings, Minnesota is ranked as the second healthiest state, down from the healthiest in each of the last four years. Vermont took the number one spot this year. The annual report serves as an important source for pinpointing our strengths and weaknesses as a state in order to facilitate change where we need it most.

The project is put out by the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention with the purpose of creating awareness of what entails a healthy community and settling health disparities across the United States. Rankings are calculated by scoring a variety of health determinants for each state, including personal behavior, community environment, health policies, clinical care, and health outcomes and then comparing them to the national average. Minnesota is ranked at 20.5 percent above the national health average.

The ranking system also shows the significant disparities among minority groups across most health determinants and outcomes.

Two factors, obesity and uninsured rates, show alarming trends towards an unhealthy future. Nationally since 1990, obesity rates have increased by 116 percent and the number of people without health insurance has increased by 18 percent.

During the same period of time, in Minnesota alone, obesity has increased by 142 percent and the uninsured rate has increased by 16 percent. While we rank second overall, Minnesota is ranked 41st for binge drinking and 21st in adequacy of prenatal care.

Although as a state we are ranked highly overall in comparison to the rest of the nation there are still many aspects of the state of our health that need attention.

We must address the health determinants we ranked poorly in, including obesity rates and the percentage of pregnant women who receive adequate prenatal care, now to ensure these disparities don’t continue to grow.