Washington is the healthiest state in the U.S., while Louisiana is ranked last, according to a new study.
The Healthy State Index was compiled from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by NiceRx, an online pharmacy. The data cross-references a number of factors, including life expectancy, cigarette use and exercise rates with other data including the amount of Google searches for certain health-related queries, such as “Fitness class near me.”
The data was used to create a score on a scale of 1 to 10, which was then assigned to each state—other than New Jersey, where data wasn’t available for all factors.
Washington state had the highest score, with 8.40 out of 10, closely followed by Massachusetts (8.36), Vermont (7.94), Utah (7.94) and Connecticut (7.82). Louisiana ranked last with a score of 1.32 out of 10, followed by Mississippi (1.46), Alabama (2.08), Kentucky (2.15) and West Virginia (2.18).
The Healthy State Index also included the data for each metric, revealing that West Virginia had the highest amount of smokers, with 23.8 percent of adults saying they partook in tobacco use, followed closely by Kentucky at 23.6 percent. Kentucky grows over a quarter of the tobacco produced in the U.S., according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The only state that produces more tobacco is North Carolina, which grows 47 percent of the country’s supply.
When it comes to binge drinking, which the CDC defines as men having at least five alcoholic drinks at once, and women having at least four, Wisconsin had the most with 25.8 percent of adults binge drinking at least once in 2020, followed by Iowa with 24.5 percent and North Dakota with 22.7 percent.
Newsweek reached out to the Louisiana Department of Health for comment.
There are many things that people can do to improve their health—and not all of them require a massive investment. The OakBend Medical Center’s first suggestion on a list of “14 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle” is “Drink more water,” a suggestion mirrored by Healthline. In fact, Healthline recommends a glass of water with each meal. OakBend Medical Center recommends two to three liters a day—or between eight and 12 8-ounce glasses a day.
When it comes to eating, OakBend says one should “eat the rainbow”—brightly colored produce contains antioxidants, which can help remove “free radicals” or unstable atoms from the body. These free radicals can damage cells. Healthline also recommends fatty fish, as fish like salmon or mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as a number of B vitamins. Healthline recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week.
Exercise is also important, with OakBend recommending 30 minutes of exercise a day. While that sounds like a lot, it doesn’t need to be intensive exercise. Walking is a great way to get that exercise in—even if a trip to the gym doesn’t fit in the schedule.