Kentucky ranks next to last in the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index, just ahead of West Virginia. The Bluegrass State ranked last in the index’s Healthy Behaviors category, which measures the percentage of residents who smoke, exercise frequently and eat healthy daily.
The chart on the left (at right) shows Kentucky’s score in each of the six categories. The state’s rankings haven’t changed much since last year, with the exception of the Work Environment index, which fell from 8th to 31st. The colored chart on the right shows the state’s overall and category rankings for 2011 and 2012 (1 is the highest rank and 50 is the lowest). Click here for the detailed report on Kentucky.
West Virginia, with an index score of 61.3, had the lowest well-being for the fourth year in a row. The report shows West Virginians were the least likely to be thriving and also had the nation’s worst emotional health. They had the lowest score in the Physical Health category, which reflects having the highest percentage of obese residents in the nation.
There were few changes from 2011 to 2012 among states with the highest and lowest well-being scores. Hawaii residents had the highest well-being for the fourth straight year, followed by Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, and Vermont.
The report shows a consistent regional pattern in well-being over the past five years. Western and Midwestern states earned seven of the 10 highest overall scores, while New England states held the other three spots. Southern states had the six lowest scores, and Southern states had eight of the 10 lowest well-being scores.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.