updated 11/8/2004 9:01:47 PM ET 2004-11-09T02:01:47

Minnesota is the nation’s healthiest state, while Louisiana is the least healthy, a ranking it has held for 14 of the last 15 years of a national survey, officials said.

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The annual report sponsored by the United Health Foundation weighs such factors as health insurance coverage, heart disease rates, total and infant mortality rates, the rate of motor vehicle deaths, high school graduation rates, childhood poverty, and public health spending.

“To rank well, you have to demonstrate success across the board,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, an official with the St. Paul-based United Health Foundation.

Since the rankings began in 1990, Minnesota has finished first nine out of 15 times, and never sunk lower than No. 2. Last year, it tied for first with New Hampshire.

This year New Hampshire came in second and Vermont third. Finishing at the bottom were Tennessee, Mississippi and in last place, Louisiana.

The nation’s health showed improvement in the 1990s, with better public health spending and public education, and decreases in smoking, cardiovascular deaths and violent crime. But there’s been little improvement nationwide since 2000 — primarily because of the spike in obesity rates, Tucker said.

Since 1990, the number of obese adults has almost doubled, to 22 percent.

The United Health Foundation is a nonprofit foundation established by UnitedHealth Group, the Minneapolis-based insurance company, to support public health and the work of doctors and other health providers around the country. The group undertakes the yearly study as a joint effort with the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention.

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