TIME person of the year

In The Latest Issue

TIME Person of the Year 2014 Magazine Cover: The Ebola Fighters 141222
Photograph by Jackie Nickerson for TIME

Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

The Choice

Person of the Year Runner-Up: Ferguson Protestors

Person of the Year Runner-Up: Vladimir Putin

Person of the Year Runner-Up: Massoud Barzani

Person of the Year Runner-Up: Jack Ma

2014 in Connections
From Vladimir Putin to Katy Perry, how the most influential people connected this year

The Firsts and Lasts of 2014
From Janet Yellen to Oscar de la Renta, documenting the year in milestones

The 15 Most Influential Fictional Characters of 2014
Featuring Elsa, Kim Kardashian, King Joffrey and more

The Top 15 Minutes of Fame of 2014
The heroes, villains and phenomena that rose, briefly, to the top

The Coolest Person of the Year
For the first time in this column’s five-year history, we actually consult an expert

Things
The inanimate objects that drove the news

Highs and Lows
Similar themes, opposite fates

Into The Hot Zone

Television

Hashtags
News stories amplified by social media

The Year in Covers
Readers respond to TIME’s biggest stories

Quotes

Moments
Memorable images of influential figures

Theater

Movies

Music

Books

TIME

The Choice

Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, says the proverb, but rather the hero’s heart.

Maybe this is true in any battle; it is surely true of a war that is waged with bleach and a prayer.

For decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure….Read the full story here.

Read more:
TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

Runner-Up: Ferguson Protesters, The Activists

Runner-Up: Vladimir Putin, The Imperialist

Runner-Up: Massoud Barzani, The Opportunist

Runner-Up: Jack Ma, The Capitalist

TIME ebola

Ebola Rages on in Sierra Leone With Over 1,000 New Cases

The country has surpassed Liberia

In the last 21 days, Sierra Leone has reported 1,319 new cases of Ebola virus infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

The country has surpassed Liberia, which has experienced a decrease in cases over the last four weeks with 225 new cases in the last 21 days. Liberia has reported 7,719 cases of the disease so far, and Sierra Leone has reported 7,897. Sierra Leone is hardest hit in its capital, Freetown, WHO reports.

The total case load in West Africa is 17,908 cases and 6,373 deaths.

MORE: Ebola Fighters: The Ones Who Answered the Call

A total of 639 health-care workers have been infected with Ebola during the current outbreak, and 349 have died. That’s an unprecedented number for a health crisis.

“Our team met heroic doctors and nurses at their wits end, exhausted burial teams and lab techs, all doing the best they could but they simply ran out of resources and were overrun with gravely ill people,” said Dr. Olu Olushayo, the WHO National Coordinator of Ebola Epidemic Response in a statement sent to media. Olushayo went into Sierra Leone to assess the spike in cases.

TIME named Ebola Fighters the 2014 Persons of the Year. Read about the courageous men and women fighting the Ebola virus, here.

Read next: Why Ebola Fighters Are TIME’s Person of the Year 2014

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Why Raw Milk Outbreaks Are On the Rise

126926750
Getty Images

This is one health trend you don't want to try

Raw milk skips the commercial chain of pasteurization and homogenization, and many proponents drink to the promise of a purer, less processed food. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long warned that the consumption of raw milk, which poses serious risks to Americans’ health, is nothing more than a misguided health trend. Now, a new report from the agency shows that the yearly number of outbreaks from raw milk is increasing.

Nearly 1,000 people were sickened from raw milk outbreaks from 2007-2012, the report says, and 73 went to the hospital. The new study shows there were an average of 13 outbreaks per year from disease-causing bacteria that can be present in unpasteurized milk between the years 2007-2012, with 81 total outbreaks in 26 states.

That rate has quadrupled since 1993-2006, the data set used when CDC last studied the subject. That time period saw only three outbreaks per year.

Some advocates have argued raw milk is a solution for people who are lactose intolerant, but the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says this is untrue.

“I think there are a lot of people [who are part of] this back-to-nature movement, wanting to support local farms and eat organically. I think the raw milk movement has emerged as part of that,” says CDC epidemiologist Hannah Gould. But because it’s not pasteurized, raw milk can be dangerous. Bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter can all be found in raw milk, and you’d have to heat it to 161 °F for about 20 seconds to kill it off, says the CDC. One of the CDC’s awareness campaign shows a raw milk horror story from a mother who fed it to her son, than saw him go into kidney failure and be placed on a ventilator.

In 1987, the FDA banned interstate sale or distribution of unpasteurized milk, but states set their own laws when it comes to what can be sold in-state. Currently, 30 states allow the legal sale of raw milk, and since 2004, eight new states have allowed the sale. The new data shows more than 80% of the outbreaks tallied in the new report occurred in states where selling raw milk is allowed.

“As states continue to legalize raw milk, I would expect it’s likely we will see more outbreaks and illnesses associated with it,” says Gould. “When we see something happening like this huge increase in the number of outbreaks caused by raw milk, we try to put out the message that this going on, and provide that information to state legislators trying to make decisions about raw milk as well as alert consumers to the risks.”

Read next: Now Coming to Your Morning Cereal Bowl: Quinoa

TIME

Behind the Changing Forecast for Ebola Infections

See how improved care has changed predicted outcomes

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that without intervention, there could be up to 1.4 million Ebola Cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia by January 20, 2015.

Scroll down to see predicted cases vs. reported cases, and the new trajectory of Ebola cases.

Predicted Cases vs. Reported Cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone

While the grim forecast was always presented as the worst case scenario, looking at predictions by country can provide a metric of the impact of intervention. In both Liberia and Sierra Leone, latest reports from the World Health Organization reveal different outcomes than expected.

Predicted Cases vs. Reported Cases in Liberia

As of Dec. 8, 2014, Liberia’s cases fell over 900,000 cases short of the CDC’s worst case scenario. At the time of the CDC report, Liberia had seen hundreds of new cases each week – more than double that of Sierra Leone. CDC’s model predicts future case numbers, assuming no intervention, according to Martin Meltzer, co-author of the CDC report.

Predicted Cases vs. Reported Cases in Sierra Leone

Dramatically fewer cases were predicted for Sierra Leone, where Ebola was located in May. But updated reports are far worse, with infections exceeding CDC’s prediction by nearly 5,000 as of Dec. 8, 2014. The latest report from the World Health Organization states that infection rates are increasing in northern Sierra Leone, where treatment and isolation centers are stretched to capacity.

“Part of forecasting is that things change unforeseen, such as in Liberia with increased interventions and changed behavior,” Meltzer said.

The prediction model can be used to understand the potential impact of worsening conditions in Sierra Leone. TIME updated CDC’s prediction model with the past three months of WHO reports to forecast cases in both countries. Through Jan. 20, 2015, when the CDC’s worst-case model predicted 1.4 million cases, the updated model forecasts roughly 53,000 cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Updated Prediction for Liberia

By Jan. 20, 2015, the updated model forecasts 21,00 cases in Liberia.

Updated Prediction for Sierra Leone

The updated model predicts just over 32,000 cases in Sierra Leone by Jan. 20, 2015.

Methodology

CDC multiplies all case numbers by 2.5 to correct for underreporting. The CDC prediction model is adjusted to match the trajectory shown from the updated data, taken from the WHO situation reports.

TIME toxins

This Makeup Additive Is Linked to a Lower IQ

nail polish
Getty Images

They're linked to a 6-8 point IQ drop

Study after study has come out warning against the dangers of phthalates, a class of chemicals added to all kinds of consumer products like cosmetics, plastic shower curtains, linoleum and glues. The latest comes from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

MORE: Plastic Chemicals During Pregnancy Linked to 70% Increased Asthma Risk

The study looked at data from 328 Dominican and African-American women studied by Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, as well as their children. The researchers measured levels of the metabolites of four phthalates in the mothers’ urine when they were pregnant, and children were given IQ tests at age 7.

“We found that children exposed in utero to high concentrations of two specific phthalates had reductions in IQ scores at age 7,” says lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. Di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) is found in adhesives, glues, organic solvents and printing inks, and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) is prevalent in nail polish, lacquer and personal care products.

MORE: Toxins Found In Nail Polishes Claiming To Be ‘Non-Toxic’

Children whose mothers had concentrations in the highest 25% also had IQ scores 6-8 points below those with mothers in the lowest 25% of exposure, the study found. “That’s actually a substantial effect,” Factor-Litvak says. “Honestly, I think we were a bit surprised that the reduction was so large.” They also saw an association between phthalate concentration and perceptual reasoning, working memory and how long it took the children to process and retrieve information.

Scientists don’t yet know exactly how phthalates might affect IQ, but the authors speculate there are several mechanisms at play. One way, for instance, might be that phthalates act as endocrine disruptors of the mothers’ thyroid hormone—important to a child’s brain development.

MORE: The Other Reason Canned Food Is Raising Your Blood Pressure

These chemicals are nearly impossible to avoid, but the researchers have some guidelines they recommend to the women in their studies—and follow themselves, Factor-Litvak says. Don’t microwave food in plastic; steer clear of scented products, which contain phthalates to help hold the fragrance; store food in glass containers, not plastic; and avoid using number 3, 6 and 7 plastics (they are marked on the bottom), which are full of phthalates and another potential toxin, BPA.

TIME medicine

This New Kind of Stem Cell May Revolutionize How We Treat Diseases

Scientists have created a new type of stem cell that could speed treatments for diseases and make them safer

Ever since Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka found a way to treat skin cells with four genes and reprogram them back to their embryonic state, scientists have been buzzing over the promise of stem cell therapies. Stem cells can be coaxed to become any of the body’s cell types, so they could potentially replace diseased or missing cells in conditions such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s. And Yamanaka’s method also meant that these cells could be made from patients themselves, so they wouldn’t trigger dangerous immune rejections.

Now scientists led by Dr. Andras Nagy at Mount Sinai Hospital Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto report an exciting new advance that could push stem cells even closer to the clinic. In a series of papers in the journals Nature and Nature Communications, the group describes a new class of stem cell, which they called F class, that they generated in the lab.

The F class cells, says Nagy, have a few advantages over the Yamanaka-generated induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. While the iPS cells are created by using viruses to introduce four genes that reprogram the cells, Nagy’s team relied on a technique they developed several years ago using transposons—small pieces of DNA that can insert themselves into different parts of a genome. Unlike viruses, these transposons can be popped out of the genome if they’re no longer needed, and they don’t carry the potential risk of viral infection.

MORE: Stem-Cell Research: The Quest Resumes

Nagy’s team found that the transposons were much more reliable vehicles for delivering the reprogramming genes exactly where they were needed to efficiently turn the clock back on the skin cells. What’s more, they could use the common antibiotic doxycycline to turn the four genes on and off; adding doxycycline to the cell culture would trigger the transposons to activate, thus turning on the genes, while removing the antibiotic would turn them off.

In this way, says Nagy, he was able to pump up the efficiency of the reprogramming process. Using the Yamanaka method, it was hit-or-miss whether the viruses would find their proper place in a cell’s genome, and more uncertainty over how effectively it could direct the cell to activate the four reprogramming genes. “F class cells are much more similar [in the culture dish], like monozygotic twins while iPS cells are more like brothers and sisters,” he says.

That consistency is a potential advantage of the transposon method, since any stem cell-based treatment would require a robust population of stem cells which can then be treated with the proper compounds to develop into insulin-making pancreatic cells to treat diabetes, or new nerve cells to replace dying ones in Alzheimer’s, or fresh heart muscle to substitute for scarred tissue after a heart attack.

MORE: Stem Cell Miracle? New Therapies May Cure Chronic Conditions like Alzheimer’s

Nagy’s team also described, with the most detail to date, exactly how mature cells like skin cells perform the ultimate molecular feat and become forever young again when exposed to the four genes. They analyzed the changes in the cells’ DNA, the proteins they made, and more. “It’s similar to high definition TV,” he says. “We see things much better with much more detail. We expect that having that high resolution characterization will allow us to better understand what is happening during this process at the molecular level. And obviously that better understanding is going to affect what we can do with these cells to make them better, safer and more efficient in cell-based treatments in the future.”

That may be years away yet, especially since some experts say that transposons may pose their own risk of wreaking DNA havoc on a cell’s genome. But having another type of stem cell that could potentially churn out healthy cells and tissues to replaced diseased ones is a welcome development.

TIME Companies

Now Coming to Your Morning Cereal Bowl: Quinoa

The FDA Disapproves Of Cheerios' Health Claims Printed On Its Boxes
Boxes of Cheerios cereal are displayed on a shelf at the Midtown Market May 12, 2009 in Brisbane, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

And a sprinkling of Kamut wheat and spelt

General Mills is launching a new brand of Cheerios that will include hints of quinoa, spelt and Kamut wheat, among other “ancient grains” that were once relegated to the organic aisle.

The new brand, called “Cheerios + Ancient Grains,” launches in January, and it will include pictures of the ancient ingredients on the front of the box with labels for the uninitiated, NPR reports.

The move comes amid an explosion in demand for ancient grains, which, in reality are no more ancient than oats or regular wheat, but are less intensively bred and engineered for bigger harvests. The number of products labeled with the words “ancient grains” climbed by 50% this year, a General Mills spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

 

TIME Cancer

Many Breast Cancer Patients Get Unnecessary Radiation

About two thirds of breast cancer patients may be getting more radiation treatment than they really need according to the latest study

When it comes to treating cancer, the common approach is often “more is better.” Throwing everything medically possible at growing tumors can keep them from spreading and, most important, help patients survive their disease.

But in a paper appearing in JAMA on Dec. 10, researchers say it’s time to rethink that strategy. They found that women with early stage breast cancers may not need the usual seven weeks of radiation therapy after surgery to remove their tumors. Instead, a three-week course with higher intensity radiation can be just as effective.

“The fact is, more is not always better in cancer care,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Justin Bekelman, assistant professor of radiation oncology, medical ethics and health policy at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. “Often less is just right. But the challenge in cancer care is that way of thinking is not where we are today.”

MORE: No More Chemo: Doctors Say It’s Not So Far-Fetched

It’s a challenge, he says, because it goes against the intuitive idea that hitting tumors with more radiation or chemo is going to have a better chance of killing them and preventing them from spreading. But in recent years, data is showing that in some cases, there are alternatives that could be just as effective but easier on patients and even less expensive. As four trials have demonstrated, shorter regimens can result in similar survival as the longer course of radiation. Bekelman and his colleagues wanted to know how many women were picking up the shorter regimen.

The researchers analyzed records from 9 million women provided by Anthem, Inc. Among them, more than 15,000 were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and had surgery to remove their tumors followed by radiation. While rates of shorter course radiation did increase from 11% in 2008 to 34.5% in 2013, that percentage still represented only a third of the women who could have taken advantage of the shorter radiation treatment.

MORE: Removing Both Breasts May Not Improve Survival From Breast Cancer

Why the reluctance to adopt the therapy that takes less time and allows women to return to their normal lives sooner? “I think physicians are much more comfortable with the longer treatment,” says Bekelman, “I wonder to what extent physicians are engaging with their patients to discuss the pros and cons of treatment schedules because they are so comfortable with the longer treatment.”

One reason they might favor the longer therapy is because they are concerned about potential side effects from the higher intensity radiation exposure in the shorter regimen. That can result in scarring and adverse effects for women decades later, he says.

That might explain why more younger women chose the longer, traditional radiation regimen, since they and their doctors may have been more concerned about scarring in their breast tissue later.

But the studies on the shorter course treatment include follow up with women up to 10 years after their therapy, and there’s no strong evidence that such adverse effects occur.

MORE: High-Tech 3D Mammograms Probably Saved This Woman’s Life

In addition, the women choosing the shorter course spent about 10% less in the first year after their treatment than those who opted for the traditional radiation regimen. “The savings in patient time and hassle and spending were really large, so it was a little surprising that more women weren’t using the [shorter course] of radiation,” says Bekelman.

Having data might help, he says, to convince both doctors and patients that when it comes to radiation, less may actually do more — in saving lives, reducing anxiety and inconvenience, and lowering health care costs.

TIME Obesity

The 10 Healthiest and 10 Least-Healthy States

Slice of meat in shape of US
Getty Images

Here are the states that are doing it right—and those in real need of a checkup

In some ways, Americans today are healthier than they were in 1990, when the United Health Foundation first published America’s Health Rankings, an annual state-by-state assessment of our nation’s health. Cardiovascular and cancer deaths are down, and the smoking rate has decreased 36%. Plus, life expectancy is at an all-time high—78.7 years. “But although we’re living longer, we’re also living sicker, with preventable illness at an alarming level,” says Reed Tuckson, MD, external senior medical advisor to United Health Foundation. The number-one reason: Obesity. “Since 1990, the obesity rate went from 11.6% to 29.4%, a 153% increase,” Dr. Tuckson says. In the last year alone, it rose 7%. Physical inactivity is also at a new high: 23.5% of Americans do not exercise at all.

Read on for the states that are doing it right—and the 10 that have a lot more work to do to improve their health.

The 10 Most Healthy States

10. Nebraska

2013 Rank: 11
Change: +1

Nebraska is among the healthiest states in America in 2014, coming in at number 10 (a slight increase over last year). Nebraska has a low rate of drug deaths, high rate of high school graduation, and high immunization coverage among children.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High incidence of Salmonella
Large disparity in health status by education level

HEALTH.COM: 12 Vaccines Your Child Needs

9. North Dakota

2013 Rank: 9
Change: None

North Dakota is the ninth most-healthy state in the U.S. this year, thanks to its low rate of drug deaths, high immunization coverage among teens, and low prevalence of low birth weight. North Dakota also came in ninth in 2013.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High prevalence of obesity
High occupational fatalities rate

8. Colorado

2013 Rank: 8
Change: None

Colorado is known for its outdoor activities—hiking, skiing, biking—so it should come as no surprise that the state has the lowest rates for obesity and diabetes in the United States. It ranks eighth for the second year in a row.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High prevalence of low birth weight
Large disparity in health status by education level

7. New Hampshire

2013 Rank: 5
Change: -2

New Hampshire comes in at number seven, and is just one of several New England states to rank in the top 10 for 2014. New Hampshire residents are more active than most Americans, enjoy a low rate of infectious disease, and have a low infant mortality rate. There is also high immunization coverage among teens.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High rate of drug deaths
Low per capita public health funding

6. Minnesota

2013 Rank: 3
Change: -3

Minnesota is known for its bitterly cold winters, but that doesn’t stop residents of this snowy state from keeping active, which also helps the state have one of the lowest obesity and diabetes rates in the nation. Minnesota also has a low rate of drug deaths.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High incidence of pertussis
Low per capita health funding

HEALTH.COM: 14 Fad Diets You Shouldn’t Try

5. Utah

2013 Rank: 6
Change: +1

Fewer people smoke in Utah than in any other state. Utah also has the second-lowest diabetes rate, the fourth-lowest obesity rate, a low percentage of children in poverty, and a low rate of preventable hospitalizations.

Challenges:
High rate of drug deaths
Low immunization coverage among teens
Limited availability of primary care physicians

4. Connecticut

2013 Rank: 7
Change: +3

Connecticut, the 4th-healthiest state in the U.S. this year, has a low prevalence of smoking, high immunization coverage among children, and a low occupational fatalities rate.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High rate of preventable hospitalizations
Large disparity in health status by education level

HEALTH.COM: 15 Ways Smoking Ruins Your Looks

3. Massachusetts

2013 Rank: 4
Change: +1

Massachusetts is the third-healthiest state in the nation in 2014. In the past two years, drug deaths have decreased by 9% and the rate of physical inactivity has decreased 11%. Massachusetts also has more residents with health insurance than any other state.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High rate of preventable hospitalizations
Large disparity in health status by education level

2. Vermont

2013 Rank: 2
Change: None

The runner-up—and the healthiest state in the continental U.S.—is Vermont. Vermont has the highest high school graduation rate in the country, a low percentage of children in poverty, and a low violent crime rate. In the last year, binge drinking has decreased 11% (though it’s still a challenge), and in the last two years, smoking has declined by 13%.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
Low immunization coverage among children
Large disparity in health status by education level

1. Hawaii

2013 Rank: 1
Change: None

For the second year in a row, Hawaii earns the honor of healthiest state in America. Relatively few people in the Aloha State are obese, the cancer rate is low, and the state has the lowest rate of preventable hospitalizations in the country. Smoking has decreased by 21% in the last two years, and binge drinking has declined by 15%.

Challenges:
High prevalence of binge drinking
High incidence of infectious disease
Low immunization coverage among children

HEALTH.COM: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

The 10 Least Healthy States

41. Indiana

2013 Rank: 41
Change: None

With 31.8% of adults obese, 28.3% of adults never exercising, and a huge air pollution problem, Indiana comes in at number 41.

Strengths:
Low incidence of infectious disease
Low percentage of children in poverty
High immunization coverage among teens

42. South Carolina

2013 Rank: 43
Change: +1

Coming in at 42, South Carolina is struggling to keep its children healthy: it has a low rate of high school graduation, high prevalence of low birth weight, and ranks in the bottom half of the states for the immunization of children. It also has high rates of obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
Low incidence of pertussis
Low rate of preventable hospitalizations

HEALTH.COM: Could You Have Type 2? 10 Diabetes Symptoms

The 10 Least Healthy States

43. Alabama

2013 Rank: 47
Change: +4

Ranking 43rd overall, Alabama has the highest diabetes rate in the nation, at 13.8% of adults—a 17% increase over the last two years. The state also has a high prevalence of low birth weight and a limited availability of dentists.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
High immunization coverage among children
Small disparity in health status by education level

44. West Virginia

2013 Rank: 46
Change: +2

With 27.3% of the adult population lighting up, West Virginia has the highest prevalence of smoking in America. It also has more drug deaths than any other state, as well as the second-highest obesity rate.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
Low incidence of infectious disease
High per capita health funding

45. Tennessee

2013 Rank: 42
Change: -3

Tennessee ranks 50th for violent crime, 49th for physical inactivity, 47th for obesity, and 45th overall.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
Low incidence of pertussis
Ready availability of primary care physicians

46. Oklahoma

2013 Rank: 44
Change: -2

Ranking 46th, the Sooner State has a high prevalence of physical inactivity, low immunization coverage among children, and a limited availability of primary care physicians. Since 1990, violent crime has increased 12%, while the nationwide rate dropped 37% during the same time period.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
Low incidence of pertussis
Low prevalence of low birth weight

47. Kentucky

2013 Rank: 45
Change: -2

While lots of people in Kentucky smoke, very few of them exercise, a combination that lands the Bluegrass State at number 47. Kentucky also suffers from a high percentage of children in poverty and a high rate of preventable hospitalizations.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
Low violent crime rate
High immunization coverage among children

HEALTH.COM: 20 Filling Foods That Help You Lose Weight

48. Louisiana

2013 Rank: 48
Change: None

Louisiana ranks 48th in 2014 thanks to its high incidence of infectious disease, high prevalence of low birth weight, and high rate of preventable hospitalizations.

Strengths:
Low incidence of pertussis
High immunization coverage among teens
Small disparity in health status by education level

49. Arkansas

2013 Rank: 49
Change: None

Coming in second to last—same as in 2013—Arkansas has a high incidence of infectious disease, a limited availability of dentists, and low immunization coverage among children. Additionally, obesity has increased 12% over the last two years.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
High per capita public health funding
Small disparity in health status by education level

50. Mississippi

2013 Rank: 50
Change: None

For the third year in a row, the least-healthy state in the U.S. is Mississippi. Mississippi ranks last on six measures: physical inactivity, rate of infectious disease, low birthweight, infant mortality, cardiovascular deaths, and premature deaths.

Strengths:
Low prevalence of binge drinking
High immunization coverage among children
Small disparity in health status by education level

This article originally appeared on Health.com

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser