Public health is worth one-third of the weight in ranking the U.S News Best States for health care. This subcategory – Public Health Rankings – evaluated six metrics: mortality rate, suicide rate, smoking rate, mental health, infant mortality rate and adult obesity rate. A population’s overall health is a strong indicator of the quality of life in a given state, providing insight into access to nutrition, economic challenges and other barriers to health that may persist within a state.
California ranks first in the nation for public health. New Jersey places second in this subcategory, followed by New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The six metrics:
- Mental Health – This metric counts the percentage of adults who reported poor mental health in at least 14 of the last 30 days in a 2019 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Low Infant Mortality Rate: This metric measures the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Low Mortality Rate: This measures the number of deaths in a state in 2019, age-adjusted and scaled for a rate per 100,000 population using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lower mortality rate indicated a higher ranking for this metric.
- Low Obesity Rate: This metric evaluates the percentage of adults in a state who were obese in 2019. Obese adults are those who have a body mass index of 30 or higher; a healthy BMI is typically between 18.5 and 24.9. A lower obesity rate indicated a higher ranking for this metric.
- Low Smoking Rate: This metric measures the percentage of a state’s adult population that smoked cigarettes in 2019. A lower smoking rate earned states a higher ranking for this metric.
- Low Suicide Rate: This metric evaluates the number of suicides per 100,000 people in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a lower rate earning states a higher ranking.