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We Have A Tie In The 'Healthiest' Category

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Minnesota and New Hampshire are the healthiest states in the nation, while Mississippi is the least healthy, according to a report released today by the non-profit United Health Foundation.

Published yearly since 1990, the report ranks the health of all 50 states by looking at health outcomes and key indicators of public health, including smoking rates, children living in poverty and motor vehicle deaths.

Overall, health in the USA has improved 16.9% since 1990, up 1.4% from the 2002 report.

But the health trend could easily reverse, says Reed Tuckson, foundation vice president. He says the rising number of uninsured and the struggle for adequate public health funding are the biggest dangers facing the nation's health.

Improvements in high school graduation rates, adequacy of prenatal care, smoking levels and violent crime are all flattening out, Tuckson says, which could bode poorly for the future.

''We have some major challenges, and the future does not look nearly as promising as what we have experienced in the recent past,'' says Tuckson.

Minnesota has the lowest rate of uninsured, the lowest number of deaths from heart disease, and the highest level of support for public health care.

New Hampshire's strengths include its support for public health care and a low infant mortality rate.

Mississippi's risk for heart disease is 26% higher than the average. Mississippi is among the bottom five states on nine other measures.

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© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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