MONTPELIER - For the fourth year in a row Vermont has been named the healthiest state in America, Governor Jim Douglas announced today. The 21st annual America's Health Rankings, which was released at a press conference at the Hall of States in Washington, D.C. this afternoon, showed the Green Mountain State in a familiar position leading the nation when it comes to health.
"Over the last eight years we have worked hard to improve the health and wellbeing of Vermonters," said Governor Douglas. "Policies like the Vermont Blueprint for Health, Choices for Care and Global Commitment to Health, and our groundbreaking 2006 health care reforms have contributed significantly to our success. But most importantly, it is the people of Vermont, who have taken responsibility for their health, that deserve credit for this distinction."
According to a release from the United Health Foundation, "Vermont has had a steady climb in the Rankings for the last twelve years from a ranking of 17th in the 1997 and 1998 Editions."
This year, the state ranked among the top 10 healthiest states in 14 of 22 public health measures relating to behaviors, community and environment, policies and clinical care. In particular, Vermont was noted for a number of strengths: high rates of graduation from high school; ready access to prenatal care; wide health insurance coverage; few children living in poverty; adequate availability of primary care physicians and public health spending. Since 1990, prevalence of smoking, and deaths from cardiovascular disease have decreased significantly.
"This is a moment to take pride in our collective work to help Vermonters lead healthier lives in healthier communities, said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. "But we can't let up on our efforts in the face of new and continuing challenges: rising rates of obesity, a drop in the numbers of children getting fully immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases, binge drinking among adults and youth alike - and the consequences of health disparities experienced by many Vermonters."