Six Reasons why we think Hawaii is the Healthiest state – Year after Year!

It wasn’t a huge surprise to find out when the latest research report came out by America’s United Health Foundation at the end of 2013 that Hawaii was ranked number ONE as the country’s healthiest state.

The rankings are based on a number of criteria. They included premature death, infant mortality, preventable hospitalizations, high school graduation rate, physical activity, violent crime, health insurance, child poverty, obesity, and diabetes rates. The report is the longest one of its kind having been produced every year since 1990. In that time, the lowest Hawaii has ever been rated is sixth. Hawaii has held the top stop the last two years.

Notable is the state’s falling smoking rates, low violent crime rates, and high levels of physical activity participation.

Also interesting, Hawaii came in as the second ranked healthiest state to live for those 65 and older in the report which came out just over a month ago. See that report here: 2014 State Health Rankings for Seniors.

Having lived previously in states also annually ranked pretty high, I thought about reasons why Hawaii might rank year after year so superior.

Six reasons Hawaii is the healthiest state

Living in Hawaii, here is my list of six reasons why Hawaii is the healthiest state in the country, particular to the island of Kauai where we reside. They are personal observations.

1.) The focus on eating real food. There seems to be a lot less eating of fast foods, especially on Kauai. You will find more of the chains on Oahu or Maui, but people seem to be more into the organic choices and eating whole foods. And the vegetables/fruits that are grown here are amazing. There’s an avocado tree I drive by that is loaded with the biggest, greenest avocados I’ve ever seen. There is very much a concern on GMOs too. As a result, people are making better food choices.

2.) Activity. Living in Hawaii just naturally stimulates one to get out and do something. Walk, hike, ride a bike, golf, paddle board, surf, kayak, jog, run, swim, snorkel … MOVE! It’s just obvious when you are here the last place you want to spend time is inside in front of the TV.

3.) A clean environment. The fact that Hawaii is a group of islands, and the most isolated islands in the world at that, there is a deep understanding of the absolute importance protecting its fragile ecosystems. I never felt this conviction until moving here and finally understand how fragile an environment can be if it is abused. This awareness of keeping your environment clean and healthy as much as one can lends to a healthy people.

4.) The Aloha spirit. You have probably seen or heard about the spirit of Aloha. Again, I didn’t get it while living on the mainland. But it’s a real thing. You will see and feel it often. The people are friendly, family oriented, and generous. There is deep consideration of others. A common sign you will see in gift shops says “Be Nice.” A rather humorous version was be nice or go home. This aloha is about feeling good emotionally inside and toward others. Hawaii isn’t a place to bring the hustle from home with you. It’s a place to appreciate its stunning beauty, slow down and smell the ocean breeze. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body.

5.) An amazing climate. I cannot express this more clearly. The climate is awesome. I would admit there are parts of every island that does get too hot some days in the summer time. I have lived in desert climes where for 5 or so months you lock yourself inside air conditioned rooms avoiding the triple digits or mountainous areas where for 5+ months avoid outdoor activities because of single to negative double digits. The weather here is as steady as anywhere in the world. Because of the location of the islands, there is only a small variation in temperatures. This is a result of its latitude. The amount of daylight remains very much the same year round and the area benefits from mild and temperature stable water and trade winds. In Hawaii, you seldom have a stay inside.

6.) Health care. The state of Hawaii has had cutting edge health care insurance coverage since 1974. The New York Times wrote an interesting piece on it here, Hawaii’s Health System, Lessons for Lawmakers. As to why the state’s program has worked so well no one actually knows! One theory written in the Times article is with nearly 90 percent of its residents given benefits, patients stay healthy, and health providers have the money and motivation to innovate.

I like the sound of being number one in such an important area of life, our health. In the future, when someone asks what is it like to live in paradise, I’ll answer, it’s HEALTHY.