States Where People Live the Longest

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35. Nevada (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.4 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 5.74 years — 13th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 12.5% — 21st highest
> Adult obesity rate: 25.7% — 6th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 17.6% — 19th highest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 19.9% — 10th highest

Nevada has one of the highest uninsured rates as well as one of the largest shares of adults with no access to places for physical activity. The Silver State also has among the smallest shares of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Education contributes to more active communication, which research has found to be crucial in health care. Better-educated people tend not only to have better-understanding of healthy choices, but they also tend to have higher incomes, enabling better access to health care and healthy choices.

In addition, there are just over 56 primary care doctors available for every 100,000 residents of the state, the second lowest ratio in the country. Lack of primary care has been linked to poor health. About 19.9% of adults in Nevada report being in poor or fair health, the 10th highest share of all states.

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34. New Mexico (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.4 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 4.36 years — 18th smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 18.2% — 3rd highest
> Adult obesity rate: 26.6% — 13th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 17.5% — 20th highest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 20.6% — 9th highest

New Mexico’s life expectancy rank compared to other states has worsened since 1980, dropping from 24th highest to 17th lowest as the improvement in life expectancy was 18th smallest. Lowering poverty can improve health outcomes, and New Mexico’s poverty rate of 18.2% is the third highest in the country and significantly higher than the national poverty rate of 12.3%.

With 17.5% of adults in the state smoking, New Mexico has a higher smoking rate than most states. Just over a fifth of residents report being in poor or fair health, one of the largest shares of all states. Additionally, residents report having almost four and a half physically unhealthy days a month, more than all but seven states.

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33. Kansas (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.6 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 3.54 years — 8th smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 11.4% — 24th lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 33.2% — 9th highest
> Adult smoking rate: 17.4% — 22nd highest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 16.1% — 20th lowest

Though like all states life expectancy in Kansas increased since 1980, the increase was eighth smallest and the state’s life expectancy rank dropped from 10th highest to 33rd highest.

What seems to be driving this change is the high obesity rate in the state. Obesity is associated with a host of adverse health outcomes. At 33.2%, the adult obesity rate is the ninth highest in the country and higher than the national rate of 29.0%.

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32. Montana (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.6 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 4.35 years — 17th smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 12.6% — 20th highest
> Adult obesity rate: 25.8% — 8th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 17.2% — 25th highest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 14.7% — 13th lowest

Montana has the 10th highest excessive drinking rate at 20.9%. Excessive drinking is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Regular and excessive consumption of alcohol can result in chronic conditions and other long-term health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and certain cancers.

About 45.1% of driving deaths in Montana involve alcohol, the second highest share of all states and well above the national share of 28.0%. The state also has the seventh highest injury mortality rate, at 91.5 per 100,000 people, compared to 70.0 per 100,000 nationwide.

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31. Pennsylvania (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.6 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 5.43 years — 16th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 12.0% — 22nd highest
> Adult obesity rate: 30.3% — 25th highest
> Adult smoking rate: 18.7% — 16th highest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 17.5% — 22nd highest

About 23.1% of Pennsylvania adults do not engage in physical activity, about the same as the national average. Lack of exercise has been consistently linked to poor physical and mental health. Still, the numbers of both physically and mentally unhealthy days a month that adults in the state report are higher than the national averages,and life expectancy is slightly lower than the national average.

Other unhealthy behaviors may also contribute to some of the poorer health outcomes in the state. The adult smoking rate of 18.7% is higher than most states.