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January 2, 2013

A ranking by UnitedHealth Foundation put New Jersey in eighth place in its annual health ranking, which is based on a combination of factors. New Jersey was in the top third of states in all six categories ranked by the foundation, including outcomes, determinants, diabetes, smoking, and obesity.

The state's strongest areas included its high rate of high school graduation, as well as its low prevalence of smoking and obesity. Its challenges include a higher prevalence of sedentary lifestyles than most other states, as well as high rates of uninsured residents and preventable hospitalizations.

While the state has one of the country's lowest smoking rates, more than 1.1 million New Jersey adults still smoke. The percentage of state children in poverty has been rising, reaching 17.4 percent in 2011, while public health funding has been decreasing. Positive trends include the dropping rate of preventable hospitalizations, which fell from 83.9 to 68.8 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees in the past five years.

New Jersey also had the country's lowest suicide rate in the rankings.

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