Special Report

America's Most Miserable States

5. Ohio
> Well-being index score: 64.5
> Life expectancy: 77.5 (13th lowest)

> Obesity: 29.2% (16th highest)
> Median household income: $45,090 (17th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.1% (24th highest)

Ohio ranks within the 10 least well-off states in four of the six categories considered by Gallup in its Well-Being Index. This includes life evaluation, emotional health, healthy behavior and work environment. The state ranks quite poorly when it comes to health metrics, as it has among the highest rates of cancer, diabetes and smoking in the country. Its residents’ life expectancy is also relatively low, at 77.5 years. Median household income is fairly low in the state and the poverty rate is somewhat high; yet neither of these metrics are among the country’s worst.

Also Read: Nine States Closing the Most Mail Centers

4. Delaware
> Well-being index score: 64.2
> Life expectancy: 78.3 (23rd lowest)
> Obesity: 28.0% (20th highest)
> Median household income: $55,847 (10th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.7% (24th lowest)

Delaware’s overall life satisfaction rank fell from seventh worst in the country in 2010 to fourth worst in 2011. The biggest reason for this was a major decline in self-reported health. Delaware’s physical health rank fell from 24th worst in the country to tenth worst. The state is among the 25 worst for diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and has the 11th highest rate of cancer. Delaware also has the worst score in the country for Gallup’s work environment ranking, which measures elements such as job satisfaction, the ability to use one’s strengths at work and the way supervisors treat their employees. Delaware also has the third-highest violent crime rate in the country.

3. Mississippi
> Well-being index score: 63.4
> Life expectancy: 74.8 (the lowest)
> Obesity: 34.0% (the highest)
> Median household income: $36,851 (the lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.0% (3rd lowest)

Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation by a number of metrics. Its median household income is $36,851, which is the lowest in the country. It also has the highest poverty rate in the country at 21.8%. Mississippi has among the lowest rates of adults with a high school diploma or more. Health is also a major issue in the state. Mississippi has the lowest life expectancy in the country, at 74.8 years — almost four years less than the national average. Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the nation at 34%. It also has among the five highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tobacco use among states. It is no wonder that Mississippi residents feel so poorly as measured by the third-lowest well-being score.

Also Read: The States With the Most Homes in Foreclosure

2. Kentucky
> Well-being index score: 63.3
> Life expectancy: 76.2 (7th lowest)
> Obesity: 31.3% (5th highest)
> Median household income: $40,062 (4th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.9% (5th lowest)

For the second year in a row, Kentucky’s well-being score is the second lowest. Residents consider themselves among the worst-off in the country in life evaluation, healthy behavior and both physical and emotional health. The state is relatively poor, financially speaking, with the fourth-lowest median household income and the fourth-highest rate of poverty. Residents have a low level of education compared to many other states, as only 81.9% of adults have at least a high school diploma — the fifth-lowest rate. The state also has a low life expectancy and among the highest rates of smoking, obesity and heart disease, as well as the highest rate of cancer in the country.

1. West Virginia
> Well-being index score: 62.3
> Life expectancy: 75.2 (2nd lowest)
> Obesity: 32.5% (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $38,218 (2nd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.2% (8th lowest)

West Virginia residents feel the most miserable in the country. It appears that they have many reasons to feel this way. The state is particularly poor. It has the second-lowest median household income in the country at $38,218, and the sixth-highest rate of poverty. Residents also face a number of health issues. More than one in 10 West Virginians have had a heart attack or suffer from coronary artery disease — the highest rate in the country. The state has the third-highest rates of cancer and diabetes. It also has the highest rate of smokers, with 26.8% of adults indulging in the habit. It has the second-highest rate of obesity. These problems affect life expectancy, which at 75.2 years in West Virginia is the lowest in the country.

Now Read America’s Happiest States

Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter, Ashley C. Allen

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