New Report Ranks Happiest and Healthiest States in the U.S.

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Newman_America-ranks-states_290116A new report conducted by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides insight into the state of happiness across the country.

In what has been dubbed the most comprehensive measure of happiness trends in the nation, the “State of American Well-Being: 2015 State Rankings” were based on residents’ feedback from a telephone survey. The survey asked residents about their physical health, stress, finances, relationships, sense of community and purpose.

The state of well-being in America as a whole hasn’t changed since 2014. An increase in exercise, a decline in smoking, and an overall movement towards well-being are some of the factors the report points to for America’s relatively positive outlook.

Hawaii was ranked the number one state for ‘wellbeing’ in the U.S. (the fifth time Hawaii has finished first since 2008) and Alaska ranked second. It wasn’t all positive for Hawaii and Alaska, however. Hawaiians expressed concern about housing and finances. Alaskan residents also responded negatively when asked about their appearance. The report didn’t look at the suicide rate in Alaska.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, said: “Alaska and Hawaii are both beautiful states in their own way but distinctly different.”

Mountain states and states in the northern plains seemed to perform well in the report. Western states also finished near the top of the rankings. Rounding out the top 10: Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona and California.

As for the states with the lowest sense of well-being? For the seventh straight year in a row, Kentucky and West Virginia ranked 49th and 50th, respectively.

In more health and happiness news—what exactly classifies someone as happy—and does it contribute to one’s overall life expectancy? Results from a recent study show that an individual’s happiness does not impact their health or mortality rate—in fact, it’s the other way around (now that’s something to be joyful about).

The study, aptly dubbed The Million Women Study, examined a large number of women recruited between 1996 and 2001; they were followed for over a decade. Health factors were tracked (i.e. stress and mood)—after the ten-year follow-up, about four percent of the participants (31,531) had died.

Researchers discovered that the majority of the deceased participants had previously self-rated themselves as “being unhappy”. But no correlation between mood and mortality rate was discovered when health causes of unhappiness were controlled for (such as depression, diabetes, arthritis, etc.) There were a few underlying factors that needed to be taken into consideration. Primarily, the study only looked at how one’s mood directly affected mortality rates—but in absence of other factors.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“New Research Ranks Well-Being in the U.S. by State,” well-beingindex.com, January 27, 2016; http://www.well-beingindex.com/2015-state-rankings.


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Adrian Newman, B.A.

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Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »