The 25 healthiest states in America in 2013

The annual state-by-state rankings are in. Did your state make the top 25?
Health.com // Health.com

You're probably used to hearing bad news about our nation's health, but a new report indicates it's beginning to look up. In 2013, Americans improved in more than two-thirds of the measures used in America's Health Rankings, an annual state-by-state assessment published jointly by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention. The range of criteria used to determine the rankings includes concrete health measures (like cancer deaths and diabetes rates), lifestyle factors (smoking and alcohol use), and quality-of-life indicators (air pollution, violent crime).

Declines in the smoking rate (from 21.2% to 19.6%) and levels of physical inactivity (26.2% to 22.9%) are most impressive, says Dr. Reed Tuckson, MD, external senior medical advisor to the United Health Foundation. "We're also relieved that for the first time since 1998, the obesity rate did not worsen."

But despite this progress, there's plenty of room for improvement: nearly 28% of American adults are obese, and close to 20% still smoke.

Residents of the following 25 states are ahead of the curve when it comes to getting (and staying) healthy.

--By Christine Mattheis, Health.com

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25. Alaska

2012 Rank: 24
Change: -1

Strengths:

Low levels of air pollution
Low prevalence of low birthweight
Small disparity in health status by educational attainment

Challenges:
High violent crime rate
High incidence of chlamydia infections
Low immunization coverage among children

2 of 28 Image courtesy of Health.com

24. Maryland

2012 Rank: 20
Change: -4

Strengths:
Low prevalence of smoking
Low percentage of children in poverty
Ready availability of primary care physicians and dentists

Challenges:
High violent crime rate
High prevalence of low birthweight and high infant mortality rate
High levels of air pollution

3 of 28 Image courtesy of Health.com

23. Montana

2012 Rank: 28
Change: +5

Strengths:
Low prevalences of obesity and diabetes
Low levels of air pollution
Low rate of cancer deaths

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High percentage of uninsured population
Limited availability of primary care physicians

4 of 28 Image courtesy of Health.com

22. South Dakota

2012 Rank: 23
Change: +1

Strengths:
Low rate of drug deaths
Low levels of air pollution
Few poor mental and physical health days per month

Challenges:
High prevalence of smoking
High prevalence of binge drinking
Low immunization coverage among children and adolescents

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21. California

2012 Rank: 21
Change: None

Strengths:
Low prevalence of smoking
Low prevalence of physical inactivity
Low infant mortality, cancer deaths, and premature death rates

Challenges:
High levels of air pollution
High percentage of uninsured population
Low immunization coverage among children

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20. Wisconsin

2012 Rank: 13
Change: -7

Strengths:
High rate of high school graduation
High immunization coverage among children
Low percentage of uninsured population

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High incidence of infectious diseases
Low per capita public health funding

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19. Rhode Island

2012 Rank: 16
Change: -3

Strengths:
High prevalence of obesity
High immunization coverage among adolescents
Ready availability of primary care physicians

Challenges:
High rate of drug deaths
High rate of preventable hospitalizations
Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

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18. Iowa

2012 Rank: 17
Change: -1

Strengths:
High rate of high school graduation
Low percentage of children in poverty
Few poor mental and physical health days per month

Challenges:
High prevalence of obesity
High prevalence of binge drinking
Limited availability of primary care physicians

9 of 28 Image courtesy of Health.com

17. Wyoming

2012 Rank: 25
Change: +8

Strengths:
Low violent crime rate
Low percentage of children in poverty
Low levels of air pollution

Challenges:
High prevalence of smoking
Low immunization coverage among adolescents
Limited availability of primary care physicians

10 of 28 Image courtesy of Health.com