Hawaii the happiest state in the nation, well-being index suggests


Hawaii is the happiest state in the nation, according to a new survey that seeks to provide an assessment of US residents' health and well-being.  

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index rates different types of well-being, including overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction.

More than 353,000 adults in all 50 states who were polled by Gallup about everything from their weight and access to health care to satisfaction with their workplace. 

According to the survey, Hawaii residents had the highest wellbeing in the nation in 2011 with an Index score of 70.2, maintaining its No. 1 status for a third consecutive year, Gallup reported.

North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, and Alaska rounded out the top five states.

West Virginia residents had the lowest wellbeing, with a score of 62.3, slightly improved from 61.7 in 2010, the survey — presented Monday at the Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium in Philadelphia — found.

In more human terms, Hawaiians were more likely than any other people in the US to say they smiled or laughed a lot, and were the least likely to report daily worry or stress, or to have been diagnosed with depression, the Washington Post wrote.

Overall, well-being across the nation was hovring at 66.2 percent, slightly lower than in 2010 (when the number was 66.8). The Gallup-Healthways report suggested the sluggish economy had dampened the sense of well-being for the past few years.

Meanwhile, the Gallup data showed that adult obesity in America had plateaued and might be slowly declining.

The obesity rate in America fell in 2011 to 26.1 percent, from 26.6 percent in 2010 and 26.5 percent in 2009.

The finding was in keeping with a recent CDC report that showed US obesity rates unchanged from a decade ago.

(GlobalPost reports: US obesity rates unchanged from a decade ago, CDC says)

That study revealed that more than one-third of adults (35.7 percent) and almost 17 percent of children were found to be obese in 2009-2010, representing little change from 2003.

Specifically, Alaska garnered the highest score for life evaluation (60.2), North Dakota led in work environment (54.3), Minnesota earned the top score for physical health (79.9) and Massachusetts was ranked first for basic access (86.6), BusinessWire wrote.

Along with West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Delaware, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Nevada  all scored poorly in terms of reported well-being.

"Increased well-being is vital to improving the physical, emotional and financial health of Americans," BusinessWire quoted Daniel Witters, lead Well-Being Index researcher at Gallup, as saying.

"It is an effective predictor of healthcare costs, job performance and productivity. These data can help identify needs and guide interventions to improve the well-being of the nation."

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