DC, Maryland, and Virginia Make Top 15 List of Healthiest US States, Cities

A year-long Gallup survey ranks places on emotional and physical health, among other factors.

Hawaii is the top state in overall well-being, while West Virginia is the worst. Map illustration courtesy of Gallup.

Washington has been ranked many ways this year, including as being the most literate city in the US and as having one of the highest binge-drinking rates. But the most recent ranking is truly one to be proud of: Washingtonians are some of the healthiest and happiest people in the country.

Gallup just released its results from the year-long survey State of Well-Being 2011, which found that among the states, Maryland and Virginia were 13th and 15th healthiest, respectively, while DC was second among large cities.

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Overall, Hawaii and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, scored highest for well-being among US states and cities.

Gallup surveyed 353,492 people over the age of 18, and asked them to think about how they felt the day before in the following categories: life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access.

Since Gallup released its sixth-month evaluation in August 2011, Maryland slipped from its spot at number ten. Still, the entire year’s findings show that Maryland managed to stay just as healthy and happy as in 2010, remaining at 13. In fact, Maryland was in the top five states in the life evaluation index, which combined respondents’ present life situations with their anticipated life situations five years from now. 

Also, Virginians had a much better outlook on life in 2011, as they moved up six spots from 21st to 15th. Among the smallest US cities, Charlottesville took the crown as the city with the highest well-being rank.

Unfortunately, our neighbors in West Virginia were not such happy campers. They remained the least healthy state, ranking in the bottom five of life evaluation, physical and emotional health, and basic access. This is the second year in a row West Virginia has come in last.

The good news is that overall the US population ended 2011 in relatively good spirits and health. The country scored 65.8 points in well-being, compared with 66 in 2010 and 2009. The country’s lowest point came in 2008, when it ended the year with a ranking of 64.7.

To download the full report, click here.