NU Online News Service, Oct. 23, 1:20 p.m. – Minnesota tops the list of America’s healthiest states, a position it has held during eight of the past 12 years, finds a new study by the UnitedHealth Foundation, Minnetonka, Minn.

New Hampshire ranks number two, followed by Utah, Connecticut and Massachusetts, the foundation finds.

UnitedHealth bases its rankings on a yearly analysis of the relative healthiness of the American population, using information supplied by the federal government, the National Safety Council and the American Cancer Society.

Key national findings contained in this year’s report include a 14% increase in the overall national composite score, used to represent healthiness since 1990. Reasons for the steady improvements include a 6.3% nationwide drop in the percentage of Americans who smoke, a 36% decrease in motor-vehicle deaths and a low unemployment rate. Other factors include a 7% increase in the number of women who receive prenatal care, a doubling of public health-care support, a reduction in heart disease, a 30% reduction in infant mortality and fewer premature deaths overall. During the last year, however, there has been a 3.3% decline in the overall national composite healthiness score.

The rankings are available online at www.unitedhealthfoundation.org