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 (1371)

Recommended for You

  • Leap Second: How Companies Are Preparing For Extra Second Today

    If today feels a bit longer, there's a reason for it.A leap second will be added to the clock to account for a discrepancy between Earth's rotation and the atomic clock.While there have been more than two dozen instances of a leap second being added since 1972, companies relying on their computer…

    Good Morning America21 mins ago
  • San Diego Couple's Final Wish Fulfilled After 75 Years of Marriage

    Jeannette and Alexander Toczko spent their lives in love. "My dad carried around a picture of my mother in her Holy Communion outfit in his wallet," Aimee Toczko-Cushman told ABC affiliate KGTV in San Diego. Alexander joined the U.S. Navy.

    Good Morning America23 mins ago
  • 75-Year-Old Grandmother Survives 48 Hours in Texas Ravine After Car Crash

    Texas resident Wanda Mobley was driving to a family reunion in Oklahoma on Friday morning when her Chevrolet sedan sped off an embankment and landed in a ravine. Mobley survived the crash but was too injured to walk up the ravine on her own. "At first I kicked out the window to get out and walk,…

    Good Morning America23 mins ago
  • Evangeline Lilly Is Pregnant: Star Glows at 'Ant-Man' Premiere

    On Monday night, Evangeline Lilly showed up to the "Ant-Man" carpet and revealed she's expecting her second child.She also posted a couple pictures on Instagram, one rubbing her belly backstage at "Conan."Read: Why Evangeline Lilly Would Be Fine Never Acting AgainShe posted another on the actual…

    Good Morning America32 mins ago
  • What Nick Watt Learned By Traveling the World

    For years, Nick Watt has traveled the globe as a journalist for ABC News. But in his new Travel Channel series, "Watt's World," the TV producer and correspondent had the opportunity to explore places from a completely different perspective. In the new show, which premieres tonight with…

    Good Morning America
  • 12-Year-Old Boy, Born With 1 Arm, Excels on the Field

    Aidan Duncan is happiest when he’s playing sports on a field or court. It could have been because of his umbilical cord wrapping around his arm, they’re not quite sure,” his mother, Mona Mulvany, told “Good Morning America.” “They never did have an exact answer as to why this happened. A…

    Good Morning America
  • 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Complete Results

    5 Biggest Moments in US Soccer Team HistoryESPN: Complete Coverage of Canada 2015Group A:June 6Canada 1, China 0Netherlands 1, New Zealand 0June 11China 1, Netherlands 0Canada 0, New Zealand 0June 15Netherlands 1, Canada 1China 2, New Zealand 2Group B:June 7Norway 4, Thailand 0Germany 10, Ivory…

    Good Morning America
  • Dozens Dead in Medan, Indonesia After Military Plane Crashes in Residential Area

    An Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules crashed today into a residential neighborhood in Medan, the country’s third largest city, killing dozens of people, authorities said. The plane crashed into houses and buildings, including a hotel, located near the Soewondo Air Force Base, where the plane…

    Good Morning America
  • Improve This: Upgrade Your Backyard With 'Going Yard' Stars

    Chris and Peyton Lambton did not find love on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette" -- where they each appeared, respectively -- but they did eventually find each other.The coupled married in 2012 and are now the stars of their own home gardening show, “Going Yard,” on HGTV.The Lambtons appeared on…

    Good Morning America
  • Escaped Prisoners: How David Sweat and Richard Matt Survived 3 Weeks on the Run

    During escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat's three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt spent some time in a previously unknown camper in Franklin County, an official confirmed. Jon Chodat, who lives just down the road, told ABC News the camper that sheltered Matt, 48, from the…

    Good Morning America
  • How Police Caught Escaped Prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat

    A three-week manhunt for two escaped prisoners, called a "nightmare" by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, came to a violent end this past weekend when one inmate was shot and killed Friday and another was shot and apprehended Sunday. Officials announced they had reason to believe Sweat and Matt, who…

    Good Morning America
  • Whitey Bulger Writes Contrite Letter to Teens, Says His Life Was 'Spent Foolishly'

    Mollykate Rodenbush, Brittany Tainsh and Michaela Arguin, now rising seniors at Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville, Massachusetts, selected Bulger as the topic of their website for the National History Day competition earlier this year. A few teachers recommended they look at a local…

    Good Morning America
  • Father Describes How He and His Family Escaped a Plane Crashing Into Their Home

    A father's quick thinking helped save his wife and two children when a plane hit their Massachusetts home.Aaron Rice and his family survived the Sunday evening crash that killed all three on board when it hit the Rice family's home in Plainville, near the Rhode Island border."My wife and my boys…

    Good Morning America
  • Adorable Kid Helps Dad Pop the Question

    This cutie pie managed to help his dad pop the question without ever saying a word during a family photo shoot. Adam Blum decided to take advantage of the opportunity of the pre-planned shoot to pop the question to the 13-month-old boy's mom and his fiance, Hannah Roach, of Cape Girardeau,…

    Good Morning America
  • Michael Douglas Loves Wife Catherine Zeta-Jones 'More Than Ever'

    Michael Douglas says he and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are doing better than ever following their public separation in 2013. The 70-year-old "Ant-Man" star opened up in a new interview about his relationship with his wife, their two children and his life after cancer. "It feels like a rebirth…

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Flush Is the Water Slide of Your Dreams and Nightmares

    The Royal Flush may have just won summer.Since a video of the new attraction was posted to YouTube earlier this month by ROUND III Media, it's been viewed more than 11 million times. Scroll down to see the video.Now, to be fair, the video does open with bikini-clad girls inexplicably carrying a…

    Good Morning America
  • 'The Bachelorette' Kaitlyn Bristowe Admits It's 'Tough' Dating Multiple Men

    As the star of "The Bachelorette," Kaitlyn Bristowe was romantically involved with several men. Juggling those relationships wasn't always easy, especially when some of the men, namely Shawn B., expressed that they were having a hard time dealing with feelings of jealousy.

    Good Morning America