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Posted at 04:25 PM ET, 02/27/2012

Health & wellness survey finds obesity leveling off, Hawaiians happiest

Hawaiians are more likely than any other people in the United States to say they smiled or laughed a lot yesterday. They’re also the least likely to report daily worry or stress or to have been diagnosed with depression.

That rosy outlook is one of the reasons the Aloha state ranked first in the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2011 released Monday.

The annual compilation of daily phone surveys represents more than 353,000 U.S. adults in all 50 states who were polled about everything from their weight and access to health care to their satisfaction with their workplace and their community. (Categories include “life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and basic access” to amenities such as food, shelter, medicine and a safe place to exercise.)

Tabulating all the results into an overall well-being index, with 0 representing no well-being at all and 100 “ideal” well-being, the researchers found that Hawaii has the highest level of well-being in the land, with a score of 70.2. At the end of the well-being spectrum is West Virginia, with a score of 62.3.

Overall, well-being across the nation lingers at 66.2 percent, a smidge lower than in 2010 (when the number was 66.8). The Gallup-Healthways report containing and explaining the poll results notes that the sluggish economy has dampened well-being for the past few years.

On what can be considered a bright note, the percentage of U.S. adults who are obese has tapered off slightly, from 26.6 in 2010 to 26.1 in 2011. And obesity rates did not rise in any state in the union.

The metropolitan D.C. area (defined in the poll as “Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD”) ranked second among the nation’s 10 large cities with the highest well-being rankings.

The report suggests ways to perk everyone up, well-being-wise.

“While trying to rebuild America’s economy and decrease unemployment, finding resources to fund access to basic services, preventative healthcare, and quality education can be difficult. A long-term commitment by the public and private sector to focus on job growth and develop the economy may go a long way toward resolving overwhelming costs associated with economic recovery. Additionally, employers who take a holistic approach to employees’ wellbeing, such as offering incentives to quit smoking or regularly attend a gym, can play a vital role in decreasing organizational and societal costs related to poor wellbeing.”

By  |  04:25 PM ET, 02/27/2012

 
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