Gallup names healthiest U.S. states

Hawaii boasts highest well-being, West Virginia comes in last

Topics: Access to Care, Quality, Performance Improvement, Primary Care, Service Lines

February 28, 2012

How healthy is your state? Hawaiians have the highest well-being in the nation, while West Virginians have the lowest, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2011, which analyzed physical and emotional health.

For the rankings, Gallup in 2011 conducted 350 surveys of 1,000 U.S. residents, who answered questions about physical health, lifestyle behaviors, emotional health, work environment, and basic access to health care and food.

Based on the responses, the 10 states that had the highest Well-Being Index scores were:

    1. Hawaii (70.2/100);
    2. North Dakota (70.0);
    3. Minnesota (69.2);
    4. Utah (69.0);
    5. Alaska (69.0);
    6. Colorado (68.4);
    6. Kansas (68.4);
    8. Nebraska (68.3);
    9. New Hampshire (68.2); and
    10. Montana (68.0).

According to Gallup, Hawaii residents had the best healthy behaviors and reported positive eating and exercise habits, as well as lower smoking rates. In addition, Hawaiians were the most likely to say they had laughed or smiled the day before being surveyed, and the least likely to report daily stress or a depression diagnosis.

Meanwhile, the states that had the lowest Well-Being Index scores were:

    1. West Virginia (62.3);
    2. Kentucky (63.3);
    3. Mississippi (63.4);
    4. Delaware (64.2);
    5. Ohio (64.5);
    6. Alabama (64.6);
    7. Arkansas (64.7);
    8. Missouri (64.8);
    9. Florida (64.9);
    10. Tennessee (65.0); and
    10. Nevada (65.0).

Nine of the top 10 states for well-being were located in the Western or Midwestern regions of the country, while half of the bottom 10 states were in the Southern region. According to Gallup, the index has reflected this geographic pattern since Gallup and Healthways began monitoring well-being in 2008. 

National Well-Being Index drops
Overall, the U.S. Well-Being Index for 2011 was 66.2 out of 100, reaching its lowest point since 2008. In comparison, the index for 2010 was 66.8.

Although the life evaluation index increased from 2008 to 2011, work environment dropped from 51.4 in 2008 to 47.2 in 2011, while basic access dropped from 83.6 in 2008 to 81.9 in 2011.

According to Gallup, no state has posted a significant well-being improvement since the 2008 financial crisis, indicating that continued economic struggle poses a challenge to well-being improvement efforts (Standish, Gallup, 2/27; Song, "Healthland," Time, 2/27; Hellmich, USA Today, 2/27; Pacific Business News, 2/27).

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