Is Washington as Healthy as We Thought?

A 2013 ranking of the healthiest states finds Virginia has an STD problem.

Washington may be known for its fitness, but the 2013 State Health Rankings show that Maryland and Virginia are not as healthy as they were one year ago. Photograph via Rena Schild /

Bad news, Washingtonians: Maryland and Virginia are less healthy than they were one year ago, according to a new survey. 

The United Health Foundation released its 2013 annual report of America’s Health Rankings today and while it touted the country in general for an improvement in overall health, our neighbors to the north and south slipped in the rankings. Maryland is the 24th healthiest state, followed by Virginia as the 26th healthiest. 

In fact, Maryland and Virginia were two of four states that experienced the largest decline in rank. Both fell four spots from their 2012 rankings. 

The report stated that Maryland slipped in the survey due to an increase in child poverty, diabetes, and disparity in health status. Virginia experienced an increase in chlamydia, poor physical health days, and occupational fatalities. 

The District was not included in the official state rankings, although the report noted a few noteworthy health improvements: 1) obesity has decreased from 23.8 percent to 21.9 percent in adults; 2) more residents are physically active, although 71,000 adults remain inactive; and 3) in the past ten years, cardiovascular deaths decreased by 23 percent. 

So what does it take to be the healthiest state? Hawaii, which took the crown from Vermont this year, scored points for having high rates of childhood immunizations and low rates of obesity, smoking, and preventable hospitalizations. 

Mississippi, on the other hand, is once again the least healthiest, since more than half a million adults still smoke in the state; a whopping 770,000 adults are obese; and 690,000 adults are physically inactive. 

The full ranking is available at the American’s Health Rankings website