COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina is one of the unhealthiest states in the country, according to an assessment of the nation's health released Tuesday.
For the sixth year in a row, Vermont is the nation's healthiest state in a report compiled by the United Health Foundation. Hawaii is ranked second, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota.
The five least healthy states are South Carolina (46), West Virginia (47), Arkansas (48), and Mississippi and Louisiana, which tied for the 49th slot. South Carolina dropped one spot from the 2011 rankings (45) and five spots from 2010 (41).
The Palmetto State has one of the highest rates of diabetes at 12.1 percent of the adult population, with 435,000 adults with diabetes. In the past 5 years, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 15.6 percent to 26.3 percent of persons under age 18.
The state also has a high prevalence of low birth weight and a low high school graduation rate.
South Carolina ranks below the median state on all measures in the report except two – binge drinking and preventable hospitalizations. In the past 10 years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations decreased from 78.6 to 61.2 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.
States that showed the most substantial improvement in rankings include: New Jersey (jumping nine slots), Maryland (jumping five slots), and Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Rhode Island (all jumping three slots).
America's Health Rankings® is an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation's health on a state-by state basis. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.
This is the 23rd year the report has been compiled.