Worst in wellness, again
04/01/2013 - Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W. Va. - We may not be happy, but at least we're consistent.
For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia was ranked 50th in the nation in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The 2012 State of Well Being rankings, released earlier this month, showed that in addition to bottoming the charts in terms of happiness, West Virginia was last in the nation in terms of physical health and "life evaluation."
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index rating for cities showed Charleston ranked last in the nation, just ahead of Huntington. That's quite an achievement, since the nation's third-unhappiest city was Mobile, Ala., the port of call for disabled cruise ships with sewage issues.
Huntington was rated the city with the nation's worst physical health, while Charleston was rated the No. 1 city for poor emotional health, according to the index. It's enough to drive you crazy -- assuming you're healthy enough to drive.
The ratings were based on poll respondents' answers to questions about exercise, smoking, obesity, blood pressure levels, availability of safe places to exercise, access to healthy foods, produce consumption, health insurance coverage, median income and opportunities to learn and do interesting things.
Good thing the poll didn't deal with the state's lack of a collegiate basketball team good enough to make it into the NCAA tournament. Or get into smokeless tobacco use and helmet-less ATV driving. Or collect data on the per capita number of slot machine parlors and biscuit-based fast-food outlets. Or take note of the fact that the state's top science-based growth industry is meth labs.
Also for a fourth consecutive year, Spam-crazy, tsunami-prone Hawaii topped the Gallup's Well-Being Index as the happiest state in the union.
So, surprise! Living in what's perceived to be a tropical paradise gets a better Gallup happiness rating than living in the Diabetes Belt.
Since West Virginia is not likely to acquire a seacoast or two, or climb to the top rungs of the nation's economic ladder in the next 12 months, I think I can predict how the 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index will rank us.
We'll be unhappy.