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 (1366)

Recommended for You

  • Debate Fact-Check: How Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Stack Up

    How often did Trump and Clinton spin facts to fit their arguments? Fact-check #1: Trump claims he did not say global warming is hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by the Chinese.

    Good Morning America
  • Hillary Clinton Slams Donald Trump for Calling Women 'Pigs, Slobs and Dogs'

    As the first presidential debate was drawing to a close, Hillary Clinton took one last chance to hammer Donald Trump, hitting at his remarks on women.“This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs,” Clinton said fervently from the debate stage tonight. “And someone who has said pregnancy…

    Good Morning America
  • Presidential Debate: Trump Held Back on Bill Clinton's 'Transgressions' Because Chelsea Was 'In the Room'

    Donald Trump suggested that he held back on discussing former President Bill Clinton's "transgressions" during the first debate of the general election because his daughter, Chelsea, was "in the room."Speaking to ABC News' Tom Llamas in the debate spin room, Trump said he thought he did "great"…

    Good Morning America
  • Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Spar Over Taxes in First Presidential Debate

    When Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns and allegedly paying zero in federal income taxes, the Republican presidential nominee had just four words to say in response. “That makes me smart,” Trump said from the debate stage at Hofstra University tonight.

    Good Morning America
  • 10 Moments That Mattered From Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's First Debate

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ushered the 2016 presidential campaign into a new phase tonight, and they did it with plenty of barbs. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have lobbed insults at each other from far away for months, but tonight they tried to start their highly anticipated face off on…

    Good Morning America
  • Presidential Debate: How Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Plan to Deal With Race

    Race relations have been increasingly strained in the United States in recent months in the wake of a string of police-involved shootings and killing of several police officers and they took center stage at the first presidential debate. Clinton said that race remains "a significant challenge" in…

    Good Morning America
  • Most Memorable Lines of the First Presidential Debate

    Clinton and Trump engaged in 90 minutes of nonstop debating, moderated by "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, to make their case to American voters, explaining why they thought they should occupy the White House. "Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton, yes, is that OK? It's very important…

    Good Morning America
  • 'DWTS' Season 23: Six Couples in Jeopardy After Face-Off Night in Week 3

    In the first ever “Face-Off” night on “Dancing With the Stars,” competitors performed in groups of two against each other, doing the same dance style to different songs.The celebrity who won each matchup won immunity from elimination, leaving six couples in jeopardy going into tomorrow’s two-hour…

    Good Morning America
  • Marlins Pay Tribute to Jose Fernandez by Wearing No. 16 Jersey

    The Miami Marlins today paid tribute to star pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident early Sunday, by wearing No. 16 jerseys in the first game since his death, ESPN reported. A moment of silence was held at Marlins Park, where the Miami players on the field stood surrounding the…

    Good Morning America
  • 9 Wounded After Shooting at Houston Shopping Center

    A gunman who wounded nine people near a shopping center in Houston this morning was dressed in a "military-style" uniform and had Nazi emblems, police said. Police shot and killed the gunman and he was pronounced dead on scene, according to the Houston Police Department. More than 75 shell…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Will & Grace' Cast Reunites for Hillary Clinton

    Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes appeared in a new video in which they discuss the 2016 campaign as their fictional characters. McCormack's Will Truman and Messing's Grace Adler are supporters of Clinton, though Karen Walker, played by Mullally, is firmly in the Trump…

    Good Morning America
  • William and Kate Take Canada by Storm

    Driving rain and wind couldn't dampen William and Kate's enthusiasm while touring Bella Bella, British Columbia, today. The royal couple had to modify their plans and scrap an aerial float plane tour of the Great Bear rain forest because of torrential rains but received a traditional welcome by…

    Good Morning America
  • To Fact-Check or Not: Campaigns Disagree on the Role of Debate Moderator

    The diverging views came after Fox News' Chris Wallace, who is moderating the third and final presidential debate, said it is not his job to judge the accuracy of the candidates' statements in real time. It's up to the other person to catch them on that," Wallace told Fox News earlier this month. …

    Good Morning America
  • Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber Split

    Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber are ending their relationship. It is with great love, respect, and friendship in our hearts that we look forward to raising our children together and exploring this new phase of our relationship," they said. Watts, 47, and Schreiber, 48, first connected at the 2005…

    Good Morning America
  • 12-Year-Old Transgender Student Delivers Powerful Speech to School Board to Fight Transphobic Rhetoric

    A 12-year-old transgender boy from Pennsylvania recently received a standing ovation and an "overwhelming amount of support" after delivering a powerful speech to his school board in an effort to counter what he saw as hateful and ignorant rhetoric about trans students, according to his mother. …

    Good Morning America
  • Who Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Invited to the First Presidential Debate

    While the biggest attraction during the presidential debate tonight will be the two candidates on stage, at least some attention will likely be paid to those in the audience. Hillary Clinton's campaign this morning released a partial list of guests invited by the Democratic presidential nominee to…

    Good Morning America
  • Beef, Veal, Bison Products Voluntarily Recalled After E. Coli Outbreak

    A voluntary recall of beef, veal and bison products has been issued by the Adams Farm Slaughterhouse over concerns the products might contain E. coli bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food Safety and inspection service. At least seven people in four states have been…

    Good Morning America