Vermont scores healthy in heart disease, obesity, STD, infant mortality, health insurance coverage, and violent crime; unhealthy in drug and alcohol use, suicide
By Guy Page
Since March 2020 our attention has been glued on Vermont’s Covid-19 case, hospitalization, death and vaccination statistics. But plenty of other markers show whether Vermonters are healthy – or not.
Vermont by some indicators seems to deserve its reputation as “the healthiest state in the nation,” a title bestowed by a 2019 United Health Foundation study. But in many key indicators, Vermont is far from healthy, a more recent study shows.
The glass-half-full UHF study shows that Vermont ranks as very healthy, in categories of cardiovascular disease, obesity, smoking, STDs, infant mortality, health insurance coverage, and violent crime. However, a separate, glass-half-empty study shows Vermonters fared lower than the national average in marijuana and alcohol consumption, suicide, and cocaine use between 2003 – 2018. Also, Vermonters are drinking more liquor.
Vermont’s ‘sobering’ drug and alcohol stats appear in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The data are also cited in a recent Cato Institute report on the impact of marijuana legalization.
First the good news.
Thirty-five measures contribute to the ranking of the healthiest states, the UHF study said. Vermont was the healthiest state in 2019, followed by Massachusetts (No. 2), Hawaii (No. 3), Connecticut (No. 4) and Utah (No. 5). Vermont improved three ranks in 2019 to take the top spot. The #1 ranking is attributed partly to a low incidence of chlamydia, a sexually-transmitted disease that can cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system and failed pregnancies. The study also recognizes Vermont’s low violent crime rate and a low percentage of uninsured individuals.
2019 was the fifth time Vermont has ranked No. 1 in the past 30 years. Mississippi ranks No. 50, while Louisiana (No. 49), Arkansas (No. 48), Alabama (No. 47) and Oklahoma (No. 46) round out the states with the greatest opportunities for improvement. Mississippi struggles with high infant mortality and cardiovascular death rates.
Now, the bad news. According to “most recent available year” statistics, Vermont is unhealthier than the U.S. average in:
Liquor Sales (consumption presumed):
Youth marijuana use in previous 30 days:
Alcohol use in the past month:
Cocaine use in the past year:
Suicide death rate for Vermonters 15 and older:
Categories: Health Care