Health — physical, mental, and emotional — is one of the best assets we can have to help us move through our days, and nutrition clearly has a deep connection to how healthy we are and how balanced we feel. A recent study analyzing health around the U.S. found that the highest-ranking states for nutritional well-being were those that, among other things, have a higher prevalence of nutrient-dense diets and prioritize home cooking. Those are two areas dairy products can thrive in.
The 2023 Nutritional Well-Being Index was conducted by HealthReporter and assessed a variety of factors in communities around the country that fell into one of four areas: nutrition, mental health, physical health, and social connections and lifestyle. In the area of nutrition, categories analyzed included healthy eating scores, the number of fast-food restaurants, fruit and vegetable consumption, and the most common diets in the state.
Mental health covered things like happiness score, prevalence of depression and loneliness, and stress levels, while social connection and lifestyle evaluated areas such as levels of volunteerism, marriage and divorce rates, alcohol consumption, and spending on food at home versus elsewhere. Physical health included obesity rates, activity involvement, and sleep levels. Together, all of these factors make up our well-being.
When those areas were combined, the top five states for nutritional well-being were Massachusetts, Utah, Vermont, Minnesota, and Colorado, respectively.
According to the data, people in these places eat more nutrient-dense diets, consume more fruits and vegetables, and cook at home more, and these states have a relatively low number of fast-food locations. They also search for more healthy eating tips online, promote environmental stability and local foods, and have the highest number of government initiatives focused on nutrition.
On the other hand, the lowest ranking states were West Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, and, finishing last, Mississippi.
The results show a continued need for improvements in healthy food access to support the overall well-being of Americans. Good nutrition is an obvious link to health and quality of life, but it can also be one of the most overlooked because it is so essential and routine. Supporting the production and distribution of healthy foods like dairy products helps consumers make the choices that play a role in how they are able to contribute to the world and enjoy their life.