Top 5, But We can Do Better

$1.5 Billion in Medical Costs -- A Good Reason Not to Bask in Healthiest State Status.

hero_image_alt_text===A picturesque image of Vermont.
thumbnail_alt_text===A picturesque image of Vermont.

Vermont was just ranked one of the five healthiest states in the nation by the United Health Foundation. The rankings take into account a variety of health factors, such as rates of infectious diseases, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and infant mortality, as well as air pollution levels and the availability of health care providers.

It's something to be proud of, to be sure. Its not a reason to rest on our laurels.

Medical costs in Vermont related to asthma, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have continually increased from $1.52 billion in 2010 to $2,042,000,000 in 2015. And the Vermont Health Department notes that cost related to chronic diseases are expected to continue on this path, increasing by 75 percent from 2010 to 2020.

That's why both the American Heart Association and the Vermont Department of Health agree, we need to make the healthy choice the easy choice and address three behaviors that are causing these diseases head on:

*Poor diet
*Lack of physical activity
*Tobacco use

This means adequately funding Vermont's tobacco control program and raising the sale age of tobacco to 21 since 25% of Vermont kids are currently using some form of tobacco.

It means taking action to reduce the 60% of adults and 29% of kids in Vermont who are overweight or obese through efforts like nutrition standards for restaurant kids' meals and a sugary beverage tax.

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