Our fair state of Louisiana consistently ranks at or near the bottom in statistics like education, income, and reliability of its levee system. Yet things are looking up. In a prominent state-by-state annual health survey, Louisiana recently rocketed in the rankings from the 50th to the 48th most healthy state.

The Morgan Quinto Press’s 14th annual Healthiest State Award is based on twenty-one health-related factors, including percentage of uninsureds, per capita expenditures for health care, and percentage of adult smokers.

Louisiana’s high rates of obesity, children in poverty, cancer deaths, and premature deaths contributed to its relatively poor standing. For 2006, however, it managed to leap frog the unhealthiest states of New Mexico (49th) and Mississippi (50th). Perhaps it is no coincidence that those states also have two of the fattest (albeit relatively effective) governors in the country.

Vermont placed first in the survey, the fifth time in six years it has done so. Yet Vermonters must know their status is in jeopardy.  The  (not-so-heavy) footsteps of Louisianians are gaining ground on them every day.