States with the Highest Life Expectancies

Though there is constant and well-deserved debate about healthcare reform in the US, at approximately 78.6 years, the average life expectancy within the US sits at approximately the 75th percentile.  Granted that severe medical conditions like diabetes and obesity seem to be increasing every year, however, which can really take a toll on the overall quality of one’s life.  With that in mind, the following is a list of 11 US states with the highest-ranked average life expectancies.  These numbers were compiled by the American Human Development Project for their second national report, Measure of America 2010-2011.

The state with the  highest average life expectancy is Hawaii, the 50th and most recent state to join the US.  According to the American Human Development Project, the  average life expectancy for Hawaiians is 81.5 years.  As Hawaii is perhaps best-known for its beautiful beaches and warm, comfortable climate, it should perhaps come as no great surprise that the Hawaiian Islands top the list of US states with high life expectancies.  At roughly 21.8%, the Aloha State’s obesity rates are also some of the lowest in the country

Minnesota is second on the list.  Average life expectancy for Minnesotans is approximately 80.9 years, which Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger mainly attributes to the state’s medical system and it residents’ high levels of physical activity.  Obesity rates in Minnesota are also below the national average, at roughly 25.7%.

With average life expectancies of 80.4 years each, California and New York are actually tied for 3rd highest average US life expectancies.  While California is indeed notorious for high levels of pollution and some of the highest rates of gang activity, the Golden State boasts some northern mountains and national parks, higher-than-average yearly salaries, and access to some of the best and most conveniently located medical care in the entire country.  Tied at number three on the list is the ever-popular New York.  Though pollution and criminal activity levels rival California’s, the average New Yorker can generally expect to live for approximately 80.4 years.

Connecticut is fourth on the list, with an average life expectancy of 80.2 years.  Though one of the nation’s oldest states, Connecticut is well-known for its beautiful countryside, as well as some of the highest average household incomes and some of the best access to medical care.  Obesity rates for Connecticut are roughly 24.5%. Connecticut’s neighbor, Massachusetts is fifth on the list for fairly similar reasons.

Next on the list are the states of North Dakota, known for its mountain ranges and low population density, as well as Utah-both states have an average life expectancy of 80.1 years.

Colorado, Arizona and South Dakota complete the Top 11 list; each of these states have average life expectancies of 79.9 years.  Factors which contribute to this are climate, elevation, and high levels of physical activity among all three states’ residents.

The most common factors which are known to affect life expectancy in specific individuals  genetic inheritance, gender, illness or other chronic conditions, diet, activity level, levels of fitness, environmental pollution, high-or-low-risk lifestyle, drug/tobacco use or lack thereof, levels of stress, and elevation.  Many of the highest-ranked states are known for their towering mountain ranges, as are many of the non-American countries with high life expectancies. These areas are known collectively as longevity or Blue Zones, only one of which occurs within the United States.  This is within the area of Loma Linda, California.