Hawaii Tops Well-Being List for Fourth Consecutive Year

ABC News Blogs
Hawaii Tops Well-Being List for Fourth Consecutive Year
.

View photo

Hawaii Tops Well-Being List for Fourth Consecutive Year (ABC News)

Lucky devils.

Hawaii has ranked highest on a well-being survey for the fourth year in a row, according to a new Gallup poll.

Weather wasn't even a variable. On a local level, in fact, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed that Lincoln, Neb., ranked number one, a state that doesn't share Hawaii's sultry breezes.

"It's safe to say weather probably isn't a factor there," Bruce Middlebrooks, Healthways spokesman, told ABCNews.com.

Colorado took the runner-up position, on a slate of 50 measures that looked at factors including emotional health, work environment and access to healthcare. West Virginia placed at the bottom of the list, with Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee not far behind - states with low median household incomes, said the survey, released Thursday.

Residents of Hawaii ratcheted up their happiness in 2012 compared even with a year earlier, with a score of 71.1 out of 100 compared with 70.2 in 2011.

Western, Midwestern and New England states in general ranked higher than the rest of the country, while Southern states placed in many of the lowest spots. Rankings remained mostly unchanged since 2008 when Gallup and Healthways began the survey, Gallup said.

The motivation behind the research is to help improve people's health through awareness and pilot projects on a community level, Dr. James Pope, vice-president and chief science officer of Healthways, told ABCNews.com.

"We knew that people in the U.S. were getting more unhealthy over time and we recognized that there are differences around the country in terms of chronic disease," Pope said.

Things might be looking up nationwide as the Affordable Care Act of 2010 gets into gear, the Gallup statement noted. The act, which requires all individuals to have health insurance or pay a fine, will make it easier for people to get treatment at no cost for everything from smoking cessation to obesity counseling.

"Certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act … may help low-income individuals improve their wellbeing, if they aware of and take advantage of them," Gallup said.

Massachusetts, the state with the highest percentage of residents with health insurance in the country, scored the top rank for access to "basic necessities," the survey noted. This category also looked at whether residents believed they had enough money for food, shelter and medicine, a safe place to exercise and access to clean water. Mississippi ranked lowest here.

Vermont wins when it comes to healthy behaviors. Residents in that state had the highest percentage of residents who ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days per week, according to the survey, which was based on telephone interviews with 350,000 Americans. On an individual level, the survey found that doctors were typically in better health than the average person and those who "are engaged in their work" were likely to lead healthier lifestyles.

In 2011, the index defined the happiest person in America as a tall, Asian-American male 65 or older, a resident of Hawaii who's married with children, religious, owns a business and earns more than $120,000 a year.

It's important to note that individuals and communities are malleable, however, said Dr. Lindsay Sears, principal investigator at Healthways. With the right policies put in place by healthcare groups and local businesses, especially, big changes can happen.

"People can really change over time," she said. "You might think people or even communities are the way they are, but we've seen from five years of research that people are able to change and sustain that change."

A Hawaiian psychologist chalked up her native state's top spot to a relaxing natural landscape and a local culture that prizes collectivism.

"Thank aloha spirit that's hard to define," June Ching, a Honolulu-based clinical psychologist, told ABCNews.com.

As Ching spoke, she was driving into a parking lot and an attendant left her booth to hand the ticket to Ching, who couldn't reach it.

"A perfect example of what I mean," said Ching, a former president of the Hawaii Psychological Association. "[Hawaiian culture] has been composed of a lot of people with values that have to do with the family and a sense of collectivism. We're working together."

As for the stunning scenery, "I love not having seasonal affective disorder because we have the sun," Ching said. "The sky has a different kind of blue that soothes you."

Click here to see where your state ranks.

Highest-Ranked States

Hawaii

Colorado

Minnesota

Utah

Vermont

Montana

Nebraska

New Hampshire

Iowa

Massachusetts

Lowest-Ranked States

Oklahoma

Indiana

Louisiana

Ohio

Alabama

Arkansas

Tennessee

Mississippi

Kentucky

West Virginia

Highest-Ranked Metropolitan Areas

Lincoln, Neb.

Boulder, Colo.

Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.

Provo-Orem, Utah

Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.

Barnstable Town, Mass.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C., Va., Md., W. Va.

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.

View Comments (1373)

Recommended for You

  • What's New on iTunes, Netflix and Hulu for April

    This is no April Fools' joke -- there's a lot to watch on iTunes, Netflix and Hulu for the month. There's hours and hours to watch on these streaming services.Whether it's movies such as the acclaimed "American Sniper" or new shows including Marvel's "Daredevil," many people are going to be glued…

    Good Morning America
  • The Pet Rock Captured a Moment and Made Its Creator a Millionaire

    Gary Ross Dahl devised the perfect pet. Dahl’s Pet Rock was a key innovation of the 1970s, tongue-in-cheek humor for a post-Watergate world, a pop culture fad that made its creator lots of money – and continues to draw bemused attention in the decades that followed. Dahl, whose death was…

    Good Morning America
  • Joni Mitchell Rushed to Hospital After Being Found Unconscious

    Legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital Tuesday after being found unconscious in her home, according to a statement posted to her official website. Mitchell regained consciousness during the ambulance ride to the hospital, and despite being in intensive…

    Good Morning America
  • 1,000-Year-Old Eye Infection Salve May Kill MRSA Super Bug, Study Shows

    A relatively new super bug may have met its match in a 1,000-year-old eye treatment, according to researchers from the University of Nottingham. The recipe to cure eye infections comes from "Bald’s Leechbook," an old English leather-bound tome that was buried deep within the British Library in…

    Good Morning America
  • Manifesto in 'Gone Girl' Case Reveals Truth About Denise Huskins Kidnapping, Lawyer Says

    Douglas Rappaport, the attorney for Denise Huskins, said he has received a “15-page, single-spaced email” from the kidnappers. “They talk very extensively about how they prepared for it, what weapons to use,” Rappaport said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. Rappaport said the email was…

    Good Morning America
  • Coast Guard Rescues 9 Crew Members From Tourist Pirate Ship in Stormy Waters

    The Coast Guard endured rough seas and gusting winds to rescue nine crewmen from a disabled tourist pirate ship called Liana's Ransom that was stranded off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Watchstanders were notified at 12:35 a.m. Monday that the Canadian tall ship's engines were disabled…

    Good Morning America
  • Comedy Central Defends 'Daily Show' Host Trevor Noah Over Tweets

    Comedy Central is standing by new "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah. Just one day after the network announced that Noah would be replacing Jon Stewart on the show, the 31-year-old comedian has come under fire for tweets referencing Jewish people and women.

    Good Morning America
  • Bouncing Baby Girls Are Utterly Delighted By Mom's Singing

    In the video, their mom, Lola Adebayo, is humming the tune to the British show, “EastEnders,” which is the babies’ grandmother’s favorite show. “They're used to watching the show when we would visit,” Adebayo told ABC News of her twins, Amel and Amira.

    Good Morning America
  • Amazon Dash Lets You Push Physical Button to Buy

    Amazon is bringing its one-click ordering system to everyday life with the introduction of the Amazon Dash button. While the thought of pressing a "Tide" button on your washer to re-order more detergent may seem like an early April Fool's Day joke, Amazon said the service is real and will be…

    Good Morning America
  • Sam Smith Plans to Use His Grammys as Doorstops

    Sam Smith won four Grammys nearly two months ago, but he says he still can't believe that it happened -- mostly because the recording academy hasn't actually sent him his trophies yet. See, the Grammys you see artists posing with backstage the night of the show are just props: The real ones, with…

    Good Morning America
  • Zayn Malik Releases 1st Solo Song After One Direction

    Zayn Malik is wasting no time. The low-key ballad, which features Malik's hypnotic vocals over a simple acoustic guitar, is titled "I Won't Mind." It was released on Soundcloud and, later, YouTube on Monday night.

    Good Morning America
  • Virginia Hospital Shooting: Armed Prisoner in Manhunt Captured, Authorities Say

    Police have captured an escaped prisoner who became the subject of a manhunt after fleeing custody at a Virginia hospital this morning, a law enforcement official said. Law enforcement sources said the suspect was arrested in Washington, D.C., by Metropolitan Police Department without incident at…

    Good Morning America
  • Denise Huskins' Alleged Kidnapping: What We Know About California 'Gone Girl' Case

    The alleged kidnapping of a California physical therapist who reappeared unharmed days after she was reported taken has left people wondering if it was all a hoax. As more information pours in about Denise Huskins' alleged kidnapping -- including emails purportedly from the kidnappers -- the…

    Good Morning America
  • 5-Year-Old Detroit Shooting Victim Trades an Eye for an 'Aye' in Pirate-Themed Party

    Five-year-old Donovan Lyles Jr. was playing video games at his home on Detroit’s east side in January when he was struck by a stray bullet as a result of a random shooting. “When I told him his eye was gone he said he would just have to become a pirate then,” his mother Emily Brazelton told ABC…

    Good Morning America
  • NASA Shows Off Mars Flying Saucer Technology

    A flying saucer could one day help a manned mission to Mars make a gentle landing on the surface of the Red Planet.

    Good Morning America
  • Harvey Weinstein Responds to Model's Accusations

    Harvey Weinstein's representative has spoken out on behalf of the media mogul following accusations that surfaced on Monday. Weinstein allegedly grabbed the woman's breasts, a police source told ABC News.

    Good Morning America
  • 'Bubble Boy' Seth Lane Undergoes Gall Bladder Surgery

    March 27 was a big day for 'Bubble Boy' Seth Lane, the 5-year-old who was born without an immune system. Trending worldwide, the social media campaign #WearYellowForSeth grabbed the attention of Seth fans from all over the globe. Today, Seth embarks on the first step towards having the bone…

    Good Morning America