Ranking US States: From Healthiest to Least Healthy [2024 Guide]

Health Rankings US States

In the quest for well-being and longevity, the health landscape across the United States presents a compelling study of contrasts. From the lush valleys of the healthiest states boasting robust public health policies and active lifestyles to the regions struggling with healthcare access and chronic disease rates, the disparities are stark.

Our latest exploration dives into the heart of America’s health rankings, offering a panoramic view of where each state stands in the pursuit of health and wellness. This comprehensive analysis sheds light not just on the statistics that delineate the healthiest from the unhealthiest states, but also on the myriad factors contributing to these distinctions. Whether it’s the impact of environmental quality, the availability of medical care, or the prevalence of healthy (or unhealthy) lifestyle choices among the populace, this guide illuminates the complex tapestry of health across the US. Join us as we navigate through the rankings, uncovering insights and trends that reveal much about the nation’s health as a whole, and what it means for residents of each state in their quest for a healthier life.

Least Healthy: Kentucky

Kentucky is ranked as the fifth least healthy state in the country, performing poorly in health and lifestyle indicators.

Kentucky ranks third in cancer mortality rate with 178.27 deaths per 100,000 residents, and also third in drug overdose death rate with 45.77 per 100,000.

Kentucky is ranked fourth in the nation for the percentage of adults who smoke, at 17.4%, and has the fourth highest mortality rate for chronic lower respiratory disease at 58.7 per 100,000.

Least Healthy: Arkansas

Arkansas ranks third highest in disease risk factors among all states. There is an issue with opioid misuse and prescription pain reliever misuse in the state, which is ranked second across America.

With a mortality rate of 60.7 per 100,000, The Natural State ranks second highest in the country for chronic lower respiratory disease. Moreover, it is the third highest in terms of diabetes mortality rate, with 34.3 per 100,000.

Arkansas ranked second in the nation for the percentage of smokers, with 18.7%. Additionally, 31.2% of respondents reported not engaging in physical activity in the past month, ranking the state second overall.

Least Healthy: Tennessee

The lifestyle habits and health in the Volunteer State are not in good shape, ranking fourth worst in the nation in those categories.

In the US, Tennessee has the highest rates of both prescription painkiller and opioid abuse (3,190.88 per 100,000) and 3,743.97 per 100,000).

Adult smoking rates are startlingly high—18.5 percent, the third highest in the nation. Additionally, the state has the fifth-highest cancer death rate in the nation (165.9 per 100,000).

Least Healthy: Mississippi

Mississippi has a concerning profile in terms of disease risk factors and prevalence. Mississippi ranks as the second lowest in the country for lifestyle and health. Mississippi’s life expectancy is the shortest in the country at 73.63 years.

In terms of mortality rates related to cancer (178.97 per 100,000), hypertension (17.37 per 100,000), kidney disease (21.8 per 100,000), and stroke (54.8 per 100,000), Mississippi has the highest rates in the country.

The state leads the nation in heart disease fatalities (242.5 per 100,000) and diabetes deaths (38.53 per 100,000).

Least Healthy: West Virginia

Forbes claims that West Virginia is the nation’s least healthy state. The health and lifestyle rankings of the Mountain State are extremely low, and its citizens have the second-lowest life expectancy in the nation.

In West Virginia, an astounding 21% of adults smoke, while 41% of people are obese. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed claimed they had not exercised in the previous month.

In the nation, West Virginia has the highest rate of adult high cholesterol (41%). Additionally, the state has the highest diabetes death rate (41.7 per 100,000) in the United States. Regretfully, West Virginia also has the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths (75.03 per 100,000).

Healthiest: Massachusetts

Now let’s discuss states of health! Massachusetts is ranked second in Forbes’ category of illness risk factors and prevalence, making it the sixth healthiest state overall. The Bay State also comes in fourth for lifestyle choices and prognosis for health.

The state has the second-lowest death rates from stroke (25.57 per 100,000) and diabetes (16.6 per 100,000) in the entire country.

Massachusetts has the third-lowest rate of heart disease mortality (129.37 per 100,000), and the fourth-lowest percentage of obese adults (27.2%) in the nation.

Healthiest: Minnesota

Minnesota is ranked fourth overall. At 119.57 per 100,000, the state has the lowest heart disease death rate in the nation.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes can also take pleasure in having the nation’s second-lowest rate of high cholesterol among adults (31.4%).

With an average life expectancy of 80 years, Minnesotans rank third in the US. They also came in fourth for persons with high blood pressure (29.5%) and the death rate from kidney illness (7.37 per 100,000).

Healthiest: Connecticut

The Constitution State is very strong when it comes to disease prevalence and risk factors, ranking third overall.

In the US, Connecticut has the lowest rate of diabetes mortality (16.33 per 100,000).

The state ranks fourth in terms of both stroke mortality (28.2 per 100,000) and chronic lower respiratory illness mortality (25.33 per 100,000).

Healthiest: Utah

Alcohol and illicit drug use are not major issues in the second healthiest state. With only 8,075.01 recorded cases of illicit substance use in the previous month per 100,000 people, Utah has the fourth lowest rate of heavy drinkers (5%).

With only 6.7% of adults smoking, the Beehive State may take satisfaction in having the lowest rate of adult smokers.

In addition, Utah has the second-lowest rate of individuals with high blood pressure (26.6%) and the lowest cancer death rate (119.23 per 100,000).

Healthiest: Hawaii

As per Forbes, Hawaii ranks as the healthiest state in the United States. Hawaii also boasts the highest life expectancy in the nation at 80.87 years.

Hawaii boasts the lowest mortality rate for chronic lower respiratory disease in the country, with 17.83 deaths per 100,000.

This state has the second lowest percentage of obese adults at 25.9%, as well as low rates of heart disease mortality (123.93 per 100,000), cancer mortality (125.5 per 100,000), and chronic liver disease mortality (8.37 per 100,000).


As we conclude our exploration of the health rankings across the United States, it’s evident that health and well-being are influenced by a complex interplay of factors, from healthcare access and quality to lifestyle choices and socio-economic conditions. The disparities between the healthiest and least healthy states highlight not just geographical and policy differences but also the urgent need for targeted interventions to address health inequities. The insights gleaned from these rankings underscore the importance of collective efforts—by government, communities, and individuals—to foster environments that support healthy living and well-being for all.

Moreover, this analysis serves as a call to action for states lagging in health metrics to learn from the successes of their healthier counterparts, implementing proven strategies and policies that can uplift their health standings. It also reminds us that health is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of life, requiring ongoing commitment and adaptation to emerging health challenges and trends.