Southern states tend to have higher rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a range of other illnesses. They also have problems that affect health, like less education and more poverty.
These are issues that build up over a lifetime, so it's doubtful that moving to Hawaii after a lifetime in the South will suddenly give you more healthy years, they said.
After Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia and Alabama had the lowest numbers for both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy. States with the best numbers included Florida – a magnet for healthy retirees – as well as Connecticut and Minnesota.
The estimates were made using 2007 through 2009 data from the census, death certificates and telephone surveys that asked people to describe their health. The CDC's Paula Yoon cautioned not to make too much of the differences between states. Results could have been swayed, for example, by how people in different states interpreted and answered the survey questions.
_ Nationally, women at 65 can expect nearly 15 more years of healthy life. Men that age can expect about 13 years.
_ Blacks fared much worse than whites. They could expect 11 years of healthy life, compared to more than 14 for whites.
The CDC report makes "painfully clear" the disparities in the health of whites and blacks in their final years, said Ellen Meara, a health economist at Dartmouth College.