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Study: Hawaii’s the healthiest state and Americans didn’t get fatter this year

For the first time in 15 years, obesity didn’t rise nationally, according to a new study of health in the states.

Hawaii unseated Vermont as the healthiest state, which has held a top-five spot for the past decade. Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were third, fourth and fifth, according to the America’s Health Rankings published by the United Health Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the health-care company UnitedHealth Group. Mississippi ranked dead last. Arkansas was 49th, preceded by Louisiana. Alabama was 47th and West Virginia was 46th.

(America's Health Rankings) (America’s Health Rankings)

Nationwide, physical inactivity dropped from 26.2 percent to 22.9 percent among adults and obesity barely changed from 27.6 percent to 27.8 percent in 2013.

“I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this year and am hopeful that the leveling off we see in America’s obesity is a sign of further improvement to come,” said Reed Tuckson,  a doctor and external adviser to United Health Foundation.

Hawaii scored so well thanks to high rates of childhood immunization and low rates of uninsured individuals, obesity, smoking and preventable hospitalizations. But binge drinking and high school graduation rates could use some improvement, according to the study. More than one in five adults is physically inactive, just under one in five smoke and just under one in ten have diabetes.

The report, in its 24th year, is based off of a compilation of data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, FBI, Dartmouth Atlas Project, U.S. Department of Education and Census Bureau.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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