America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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1. Hawaii
> Well-being index score: 71.1
> Life expectancy: 81.5 years (the highest)
> Obesity: 25.7% (20th lowest)
> Median household income: $61,821 (8th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.6% (10th highest)

In Gallup’s 2012 well-being index, Hawaii performed better than any other state. It ranked first or second in five of the six categories that make up the index, and 14th in basic access to care. Hawaii’s residents reported being generally happier with their current lives than those of any other state. They were also a more optimistic group. More than two-thirds of Hawaiians reported not feeling stressed, compared to just 52.8% of West Virginians who could say that. A larger proportion of Hawaiians exercise than any state but Alaska, and residents also eat healthily and do not smoke. At the latest count, life expectancy at birth in the state was 81.5 years, by far the best in the country.

Also Read: The Best and Worst Run States In America

2. Colorado
> Well-being index score: 69.7
> Life expectancy: 79.9 years (9th highest)
> Obesity: 18.7% (the lowest)
> Median household income: $55,387 (15th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.2% (15th highest)

Coloradans were among the most likely Americans to practice healthy behaviors, such as exercising regularly and eating fruits and vegetables. They were also among the least likely to smoke and among the most likely to report easy access to a safe place to exercise. Their healthy behavior appears to be paying off. Colorado was rated the best state for physical health in the United States, having some of the nation’s lowest rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Colorado residents were also among the nation’s healthiest emotionally, and they had high evaluations of their own lives.

3. Minnesota
> Well-being index score: 68.9
> Life expectancy: 80.9 years (2nd highest)
> Obesity: 24.7% (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $56,954 (11th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 92.0% (2nd highest)

Gallup found that Minnesota had better emotional health than all but two states. Some 86% of Minnesotans reported they did not feel an excessive amount of sadness during the previous day, a higher percentage than all but one state. In addition, Minnesotans ranked third in the physical health category. Nearly 83% of survey respondents said they did not have health problems that prevented them from doing activities typical of their age group — a higher-percentage than any other state. According to the most recent data, Minnesotans had the second-highest life expectancy of any state. Also, more than 78% of respondents said poor health did not get in the way of their usual daily activities, a higher percentage than all but one state.

4. Utah
> Well-being index score: 68.8
> Life expectancy: 80.1 years (8th highest)
> Obesity: 23.9% (6th lowest)
> Median household income: $55,869 (14th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.3% (14th highest)

Utah residents had higher evaluations of their present lives and higher expectations for the future than residents of nearly every other state. More than 55% of respondents were thriving, while less than 3% were considered to be suffering based on their assessments of their present and future quality of life. In addition to strong evaluations of their own lives, Utah residents had better emotional health and a higher quality of their work environment than residents of most other states. Nearly 70% of respondents told Gallup they had recently learned something new or interesting, a higher percentage than any other state.

5. Vermont
> Well-being index score: 68.6
> Life expectancy: 79.7 years (12th highest)
> Obesity: 25.7% (20th lowest)
> Median household income: $52,776 (19th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 91.8% (4th highest)

Vermont residents display healthier behaviors than any other state in the United States. For example, nearly 72% of Vermont residents told Gallup that they ate healthily all day during the previous day, a higher percentage than any other state except Rhode Island. In fact, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had at least at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in four of the past seven days, a higher proportion than any other state. Nearly 60% of residents said they exercised for at least 30 minutes in three of the past seven days, a higher percentage than all but two other states. The state had among the lowest poverty rates in the country, which may help explain why Vermont residents reported having good access to most basic needs. The state had the second-smallest proportion of residents say they did not have enough money to feed their families.