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Hawaii has the Highest Well-being Ranking, West Virginia Last

The 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-being results are out. There was very little difference in the results from 2010 to 2011. In terms of residents’ well-being, Hawaii grabbed the number one spot for the third year in a row. West Virgina residents reported the lowest well-being this year. The Well-being Index scores are calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being ideal well-being. The states are “graded” in six categories to create their total score. Hawaii scored 70.2 while West Virgina scored 62.3. The nation as a whole scored 66.2.

Throughout the country, the western states continue to have the highest scores, while the southern states score the lowest. The six categories that are measured include life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behavior, and healthy access.

Alaska scored highest on life evaluation, as residents rated their lives high enough to consider themselves “thriving.” West Virginians were the least likely to rate themselves in the “thriving” category, yielding their last place results for life evaluation.

Hawaiians were most likely to smile or laugh and least likely to have daily worry or stress. These rates and the fact that the entire state was least likely to have ever been diagnosed with depression landed the state top rank in the emotional health category.

The work environment category measures whether an individual is able to use their strengths to do what they do best every day. Additionally, the poll measured issues of trust and openness in the work place. North Dakota reported the best work environments while Delaware had the worst.

In the physical health category, Minnesota ranked the highest and West Virgina placed last. West Virgina has the highest rates of obesity in the country, surely contributing to their rank in the poll.

Good eating habits and low smoking rates earns high scores in the healthy behavior category; Hawaii grabbed another first place for this category. Healthy access refers to residents’ access to medical care, enough money for food, shelter, a safe place for exercise, and community satisfaction. As most residents in Massachusetts have medical insurance, they ranked number one in the access category. Mississippi ranked the lowest in healthy access.

There’s been very little shift in results since the poll started in 2008. Many scores are a direct reflection of the economy and budget cuts to aid programs. It is true that a tough economy can yield poor health and well-being. Hopefully, the country is shifting though and the outpouring of education regarding health and wellness is being taken advantage of and even the lowest scoring states will improve in the coming year.

February 29th, 2012

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