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December 11. 2013 7:51PM

Study ranks NH as fifth healthiest state in nation for 2013

Fewer cigarette smokers, a drop in cardiovascular deaths and improved high school graduation rates helped New Hampshire earn an overall ranking as fifth healthiest state in the nation for 2013.

But a fairly high rate of obesity and diabetes, an increasing rate of children living in poverty and high prevalence of binge drinking and whooping cough infections are challenges the state needs to address.

The United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings Report report for 2013 rated New Hampshire fifth overall healthiest among the 50 states and District of Columbia. Hawaii was ranked overall healthiest state. Mississippi ranked 50th.

"We are lucky to be living in such a healthy state but there is more work to be done," state Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero said in a statement.

Smoking prevalence dropped from 19.4 percent in 2012 to 17.2 percent. The high school graduation rate improved from 75.3 percent to 86.3 percent during the last 10 years while cardiovascular deaths dropped 32 percent from 310 to 218.9 per 100,000 people in the last decade.

In New England, New Hampshire came in behind Vermont, which ranked second overall and Massachusetts, which ranked fourth.

While the state's immunization rate is second, it is experiencing a busy year for whooping cough cases, Montero noted.

The state initially was ranked third last year, but dropped to fifth following changes to how rankings were calculated.


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