Entries in Vermont (3)


Vermont Tops List of Healthiest States

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the fourth year in a row, Vermont has been named the healthiest state in the U.S.

The annual America’s Health Rankings list applauds the state’s high rate of high school graduation and low rate of uninsured population. 

But it also finds that Vermont is not without its problems.  Vermonters have a relatively high rate of cancer deaths and participate in binge drinking more than most states (Wisconsiners binge drink the most, Tennesseans the least).


Vermont is in good company in the Northeast with seven states from the region making it into the top 10.

Second place goes to Hawaii, a regular contender for first place.  Since the ranking started in 1990, Hawaii has consistently ranked in the top six states.  Hawaiians enjoy low rates of obesity and smoking, but have high rates of binge drinking and low birth weight babies.

Louisiana and Mississippi are tied for the least healthy state and have consistently been at the bottom of the list for the past 23 years.  Both states have low rates of binge drinking, but suffer from high rates of occupational fatalities and children in poverty.  These two states are in the bottom five in about half of the 24 components that make up the overall ranking, including high rates of chronic conditions like sedentary lifestyle, obesity and diabetes.

These chronic conditions are also putting the entire nation’s health most at risk.  Obesity alone is the leading cause of preventable death and costs our nation about $200 billion each year.  More than 66 million adults are obese -- that’s more than one in four Americans.  Colorado is the least obese and least sedentary state, in contrast to Mississippi which is the most obese and most sedentary.

“It is important to note that we are living longer, but not necessarily better,” says Jane Pennington, spokesperson from the United Health Foundation, the group responsible for the report.  “Despite improvements, we still have unhealthy behavior that threatens our health status.  It continues to be disappointing that we are seeing a rise in chronic illness.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  That is the alarm that we want to sound.”

Although smoking in the U.S. has been decreasing recently, more than 45 million Americans still smoke, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Utah has the lowest percent of its population smoking and Kentucky has the highest.

“People should care about this report,” says Dr. Anthony Shih, executive vice president for Programs at the Commonwealth Fund.  “It is clear that where you live matters in terms of overall health and it should motivate action to improve.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vermont Debates Vaccines: Should Parents Be Able to Opt Out?

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(MONTPELIER, Vt.) -- The debate over a bill that would make vaccines mandatory for school-aged children by eliminating "philosophical exemption" as a reason to opt out of the shots, has divided Vermont's families over the benefits and risks of vaccines. 

It has also pitted the state House -- whose majority voted down the bill -- against the state Senate, which voted to approve it.

Twenty states, including Vermont, currently allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to vaccines for personal or moral reasons.

"It's been clearly demonstrated that the broader (the) exemptions, the more loosely it's applied -- and the less likely children will get vaccinated," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

Fewer than 70 percent of children in Vermont between the ages of 18 months and 3 years received all of the recommended vaccines, according to a 2010 National Immunization Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- a rate lower than the 73 percent national average.  Vermont has one of the highest philosophical exemption rates among those 20 states, Dr. Harry Chen, health commissioner for Vermont's Department of Public Health, told ABC News.

Measles and pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are the fastest growing vaccine-preventable diseases nationwide.  Just last year, Vermont had an outbreak of pertussis.  And other states with high philosophical exemption rates, including Washington and Oregon, have also seen a revival of pertussis.

According to the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice, an advocacy group of parents, health care providers and others lobbying to stop the bill from passing, many people are naturally immune to communicable diseases without the need for vaccines.

The group also maintains that mass vaccinations will lower the risk of infection among people who decline the vaccinations, a phenomenon known as "herd immunity."

"There is no need to allow the state to strip parents of their rights to make medical decisions for their own kids," the group's website reads.  "Given that vaccines have known risks associated with them, it seems only prudent to continue the philosophical exemption, and to make sure that we are not divided by fear mongering."

Schaffner said it's impossible to know who would have natural immunity, adding that herd immunity works only if the majority of the population is vaccinated, which stresses the importance of getting vaccinated.

In addition, he said, some children have medical conditions that preclude them from receiving vaccinations.

"The way we protect them is for all the rest of us to be protected," Schaffner said. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vermont Is the Healthiest State Once Again

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MINNETONKA, Minn.) -- Whatever Vermont has been doing to keep it residents in top shape, it's working: for the fifth consecutive year, the state was named the healthiest in the America's Health Rankings, published jointly by United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.

Vermont's recipe for good health involves its single payer healthcare program, a low number of uninsured residents and easily accessible preventive care.

Overall, New England boasts the healthiest Americans with New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts ranking two, three and five, only interrupted by Hawaii at number four.

As for the nation's unhealthiest state: it's Mississippi -- for the 10th year in a row -- for a variety of reasons including high rates of obesity, children in poverty and preventable hospitalizations.

The states following Mississippi's unhealthy lead are Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio