Where Are the Country’s Least Happy and Healthy Americans? New Studies Reveal America’s “Sadness Belt”

Unfortunately the lowest ranking states for happiness and health are all in a cluster.

Photo Credit: Fenton/ Shutterstock.com

Gallup and Healthways recently released their annual Well-Being Index for 2012, and Appalachia was found once again to be home to some of the least healthy and happy Americans. The most striking result of last year’s Well-Being Index is that while the happiest states are spread throughout the country, the lowest ranking states are all clustered in Central and Southern Appalachia, and the region’s neighboring states.

The Well-Being Index compiles surveys taken from all over the country all throughout the year and organizes them by state, community and congressional district. Participants are asked to evaluate their lives according to six categories:

– Life Evaluation: how a person’s current life compares with their expectations

– Emotional Health: deals with the respondent’s experiences and feelings on a given day

– Physical Health: encompasses diseases, physical pain, sick days, body-mass index, etc.

– Healthy Behavior: addresses both positive behaviors (i.e. exercise) and negative (i.e. smoking)

– Work Environment: questions for workers on job satisfaction, treatment from superiors, etc.

– Basic Access: includes access to food, housing, healthcare, etc.

Click to enlarge.

West Virginia (50) and Kentucky (49) once again brought up the rear as the saddest two states for the fourth year in a row. Tennessee slid down a few pegs from its spot last year, joining its fellow Appalachian states at number 47. As a whole, Virginia did quite well. But the state’s congressional district data indicates a major well-being disparity. The 9th District of Virginia, shown in parentheses above, ranks 321st in well-being out of 436 congressional districts. Respondents from this southwestern Virginia district have more in common with their Appalachian neighbors than with affluent northern Virginians…



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