We drink more, smoke less, are more overweight, and our public health policies have not kept up, according to the report. (Scott Anderson, Patch Staff)

MILWAUKEE, WI — The United Health Foundation recently released the 30th edition of its America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, which represents the longest-running state-by-state analysis of the nation’s health.

It’s mediocre news for Wisconsin in 2019, as we finished 23rd-healthiest overall out of the 50 states. Wisconsin has seen a steady drop in its health ranking by decade. We drink more, smoke less, weigh more and our public health policies have not kept up, according to the report.

Wisconsin fares well when compared with other states when it comes to high school graduation rates. The Badger State is ranked 11th in the country with 88.6 percent of all students graduating high school.

Wisconsin manages to come up dead last in one category – excessive drinking. According to the report, one out of every four adults falls into this category. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, excessive drinking for women is considered as four or more drinks during a single occasion. For men, it’s five or more drinks during a single occasion.

Here’s more information on how our state ranked across the five model categories that determined the overall ranking.

Behaviors: 24
Community & Environment: 19
Policy: 24
Clinical Care: 24
Health Outcomes: 19

The overall ranking for Wisconsin is unchanged from the 2018 report. Additionally, we have seen steady drop in ranking overall throughout the past 30 years.

2010 Ranking: 18
2000 Ranking: 11
1990 Ranking: 7

When it comes to smoking and obesity – two health outcomes that affect life expectancy and insurance usage and coverage, Wisconsin has two different trends. Since 1990, obesity in Wisconsin has skyrocketed in Wisconsin, the report found. In 1990, just over 10 percent of the adult population was considered obese. By 2019, that figure increased to one out of every three adults. When it came to smoking, nearly one out of every four adults in Wisconsin were smokers in 1990. By 2019, that figure shrunk to about 15 percent.

Here are some other healthy highlights from the report.

Vermont ranked as the healthiest state in America for 2019, the researchers found, followed by Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut and Utah.

At the other end of the rankings, Mississippi finished as the lowest-ranked state in the nation. The bottom five was rounded out by Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma.

The report ranked all 50 states across 35 measures of health, such as e-cigarette use, housing problems and concentrated disadvantage. These measures were then filtered through the following five categories to help determine an overall ranking for each state:

  • Behaviors
  • Community & Environment
  • Policy
  • Clinical Care
  • Health Outcomes

The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report used 19 data sources to determine the most accurate information for each state, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavior Risk Surveillance System and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Current Population Survey.

“The report provides a unique opportunity to track short- and long-term public health successes as well as identify current and emerging challenges at state and national levels,” authors of the United Health Foundation wrote. “When reading the report, think beyond the rankings; every state, whether first or last, has strengths and challenges.”

The full report is available on Americashealthrankings.org.


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