Hawaii Thrives, West Virginia Not So Much

April 4, 2011

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gallup-state-thriving-measures-apr11.gifResidents of Hawaii, Alaska, and Wyoming are the most likely among residents of U.S. states to be “thriving,” based on how they rate their lives at this time and five years from now, while residents of West Virginia and Kentucky are the least likely, according to new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. Gallup classifies Americans as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” according to how they rate their lives “at this time” and “about five years from now” on a ladder scale based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

Hawaii Leads Nation in Current and Future Life Ratings

hawaii-states-positive-apr-2011.JPGResidents of Hawaii lead the nation on the thriving measure by a significant margin because they rate their lives at this time and their lives in five years significantly better than do residents of other states. Residents of Alaska, Maryland, and Texas also are among the most positive in the nation on both measures.

Residents of North Dakota and Wyoming, both among the leaders in the nation on the thriving measure, are second only to residents of Hawaii on how they rate their lives at the current time, at 7.2 on average. Residents of Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah closely follow Hawaii in terms of their optimistic attitudes about their lives five years from now, rating their future lives a 7.9 or higher on average.

Americans More Optimistic about Future

Americans’ ratings of their lives five years from now consistently exceed ratings of their current lives, both during time and across all 50 states. Gallup says this suggests that people in various situations, good and bad, tend to express optimism that things will improve in the future.

No Clear Regional Differences in Life Ratings

hawaii-states-positive-apr-2011.JPGWell-Being Index data indicates there is no clear regional pattern to the states that do better or worse in terms of percentage of residents who are thriving. For example, Connecticut and Massachusetts both have thriving rates of more than 50%, but Rhode Island, which is nestled between the two, has a thriving rate of only 48.9%.

Furthermore, the Western states of Oregon and Nevada are considered to be in the lower range of average Life Ratings scores, but every other Western state is in the middle or higher range. Similar discrepancies can be seen in the Southeast and Plains states.

Obesity Highest in WV, Lowest in CO

In other bad health-related news for West Virginia, it has the highest rate (33.5%) of adult obesity of any US state, while Colorado (20%) has the lowest, according to other recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. The prevalence of obesity is nearly 35% higher, on average, in the 11 states with the highest obesity levels compared with the 10 states with the lowest obesity levels: 30.5% vs. 22.6%, respectively.

About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 1-Dec. 29, 2010, with a random sample of 352,840 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

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