Wellness
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The 25 Unhealthiest States in the Country

Where does your home state rank?

1 / 27

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index recently ranked the healthiest and least healthy states in the country. The Index determined each state’s ranking by measuring five markers of health: purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being.

Americans are getting healthier: Smoking rates are at a historical low and more people than ever before are exercising. Rates of chronic diseases, like obesity, diabetes and depression, however, are climbing—particularly in the southern portion of the United States.

So, how healthy (or unhealthy) is your state? Here are the 25 unhealthiest states in the nation.

26: North Carolina

2 / 27 26: North Carolina

You may know North Carolina for its gorgeous coastlines, but it's also a good place to discover your sense of purpose and develop a strong community. Don't plan on making the big bucks, though—the state ranks near the bottom of the Index for financial well-being.

Well-Being Score: 62.4
Purpose Rank: 14
Social Rank: 9
Financial Rank: 41
Community Rank: 22
Physical Rank: 28

27: South Carolina

3 / 27 27: South Carolina

There's good and not-as-good news for the Palmetto State: Though it ranks in the top five in the purpose and social categories, it places in the bottom half for physical health. That could be due to its obesity rate, which at 33.3 percent is almost five points above the national average.

Well-Being Score: 62.3
Purpose Rank: 4
Social Rank: 6
Financial Rank: 38
Community Rank: 17
Physical Rank: 39

28: Wisconsin

4 / 27 28: Wisconsin

Even with a good financial showing, Wisconsin plummeted 15 spots from its 2015 rank, from 13th to 28th place. The reason? Big drops in purpose, social and physical. You'll get 'em next year, Cheeseheads.

Well-Being Score: 62.3
Purpose Rank: 39
Social Rank: 39
Financial Rank: 7
Community Rank: 15
Physical Rank: 31

29: Georgia

5 / 27 29: Georgia

Southern hospitality is alive and well in Georgia—it ranks number seven in social well-being. Where doesn’t the Peach State thrive? Sense of community and financial well-being, coming in at number 36 and number 42, respectively.

Well-Being Score: 62.3
Purpose Rank: 11
Social Rank: 7
Financial Rank: 42
Community Rank: 36
Physical Rank: 25

30: Pennsylvania

6 / 27 30: Pennsylvania

From A (Allentown) to Z (Zionhill), things look promising for Pennsylvania. It's in the bottom half for overall well-being, but has jumped five spots since 2014, with good showings in the social and financial elements of well-being.

Well-Being Score: 62.1
Purpose Rank: 27
Social Rank: 13
Financial Rank: 12
Community Rank: 32
Physical Rank: 29

31: Maryland

7 / 27 31: Maryland

The city of Baltimore’s renaissance in recent years could contribute to the healthy purse strings evident in Maryland’s financial rankings. And with the United States Naval Academy located in Annapolis, little wonder that it ranks 12th for fitness. But a sense of purpose could be improved among residents, and an especially low ranking for factors that feed strong communities, such as schools and housing options, keep the state’s well-being index stuck at 31.

Well-Being Score: 62
Purpose Rank: 33
Social Rank: 20
Financial Rank: 16
Community Rank: 44
Physical Rank: 12

32: Kansas

8 / 27 32: Kansas

There’s no place like home, especially when that home is Kansas. Here in the American heartland, residents enjoy a sense of purpose and healthy finances, but the rankings take a dip for social connections and physical activities.

Well-Being Score: 61.8
Purpose Rank: 20
Social Rank: 38
Financial Rank: 17
Community Rank: 26
Physical Rank: 40

33: New York

9 / 27 33: New York

You may think of New York City's skyscrapers, nightlife and countless tourist attractions when you think of New York, but the Empire State also boasts high physical and social well-being. In terns of purpose and community, however, the state ranks near the bottom of the Index.

Well-Being Score: 61.8
Purpose Rank: 46
Social Rank: 22
Financial Rank: 29
Community Rank: 43
Physical Rank: 14

34: Nevada

10 / 27 34: Nevada

Nevada is home to beautiful desert vistas and flashy casinos where you can hopefully win a few bucks, but ranks near the middle of the Index in most markers of health. And if you’re looking for a tight community, you won’t cash-in in here—it’s third-to-last in that category.

Well-Being Score: 61.8
Purpose Rank: 34
Social Rank: 34
Financial Rank: 33
Community Rank: 47
Physical Rank: 26

35: Connecticut

11 / 27 35: Connecticut

There may be a reason so many insurance companies call the Constitution State home: Connecticut ranks number 13 in physical well-being. It ranks lower in the Index for sense of purpose and community, and financial well-being, however.

Well-Being Score: 61.7
Purpose Rank: 45
Social Rank: 19
Financial Rank: 37  
Community Rank: 48
Physical Rank: 22

36: Missouri

12 / 27 36: Missouri

“Show me” the health rankings for the Show-Me State! Home of the Gateway Arch, Kansas City-style barbecue and major college football fandom, Missouri hovers right around the middle of the Well-Being Index in all five markers of health.

Well-Being Score: 61.7
Purpose Rank: 31
Social Rank: 31
Financial Rank: 25
Community Rank: 30
Physical Rank: 36

37: Illinois

13 / 27 37: Illinois

Illinois is much more than Chicago: the state is blanketed by farmlands, as well as 3,300 acres of forests, providing plenty of opportunities for hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. While the Prairie State fares well for fitness and income, a shaky sense of purpose gives it an overall score of 37th in the index.

Well-Being Score: 61.6
Purpose Rank: 36
Social Rank: 26
Financial Rank: 28
Community Rank: 46
Physical Rank: 24

38: Tennessee

14 / 27 38: Tennessee

Proud as we can be / to live in Tennessee" sung country icon Johnny Cash of his adopted home state, where community is both a priority and point of pride. While improving, its social, financial and physical standings aren't as stellar, placing it at number 38 on the Index.

Well-Being Score: 61.5
Purpose Rank: 26
Social Rank: 36
Financial Rank: 36
Community Rank: 21
Physical Rank: 43

39: Michigan

15 / 27 39: Michigan

In its heyday, Detroit was the seat of the auto industry and Motown. While it remains headquarters to the nation’s three major car companies, changes in its economic landscape have had an impact, with a 35th ranking for finances and an even lower ranking for sense of purpose. Community offers a bright spot, but lackluster rankings for social connections and physical activity—in spite of Michigan’s abundant inland lakes and bordering four of the five Great Lakes— lower its overall score on the Index.

Well-Being Score: 61.4
Purpose Rank: 42
Social Rank: 35
Financial Rank: 35
Community Rank: 24
Physical Rank: 37

40: Delaware

16 / 27 40: Delaware

The First State, Delaware, ranks number 15 for social well-being. It also ranks higher in financial well-being, at number 24—perhaps due to the state’s zero sales tax!

Well-Being Score: 61.4
Purpose Rank: 48
Social Rank: 15
Financial Rank: 24
Community Rank: 45
Physical Rank: 22

41: Mississippi

17 / 27 41: Mississippi

Mississippians don’t need help discovering their purpose in life—they rank number three in the nation. While Mississippi is well-known as the birthplace of the blues and TV superstar Oprah Winfrey, the state isn’t making history with its financial well-being or physical well-being.

Well-Being Score: 61.3
Purpose Rank: 3
Social Rank: 16
Financial Rank: 49
Community Rank: 37
Physical Rank: 45

42: Rhode Island

18 / 27 42: Rhode Island

Boasting gorgeous coastal areas in and around Narragansett Bay, our smallest state provides wonderful options for outdoor activities like boating and beach-going. Unfortunately, social and community opportunities aren't as plentiful, which puts Rhode Island towards the lower part of the Index.

Well-Being Score: 61.3
Purpose Rank: 49
Social Rank: 50
Financial Rank: 43
Community Rank: 50
Physical Rank: 18

43: Louisiana

19 / 27 43: Louisiana

The “Big Easy”--home to Mardi Gras fun and a rich jazz heritage—is also a haven for food lovers, starting with beignets for breakfast and po’boys for lunch. And while it's worked valiantly to overcome adversities such as Hurricane Katrina, the financial ranking remains low and communities have suffered, placing the state near the bottom of the index. A ranking of 41 for physical activity is reflected in the state’s 32.7 percent obesity rate.

Well-Being Score: 61
Purpose Rank: 25
Social Rank: 30
Financial Rank: 48
Community Rank: 42
Physical Rank: 41

44: Alabama

20 / 27 44: Alabama

There’s good and bad news for Alabama. Home to college football giant the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, Alabama ranks 28th in purpose and community scores. Roll tide! But this state also ranks 47th in financial and 43rd in social standings, placing it at number 44 on the Index.

Well-Being Score: 61
Purpose Rank: 28
Social Rank: 43
Financial Rank: 47
Community Rank: 28
Physical Rank: 46

45: Ohio

21 / 27 45: Ohio

Ohio is known for its massive college football following—with a whopping 13 Division 1 college football teams—but isn't topping the charts in terms of health. The state hovers in the middle of the Index in financial well-being, but ranks low in sense of purpose and community, as well as social and physical well-being.

Well-Being Score: 60.9
Purpose Rank: 43
Social Rank: 40
Financial Rank: 31
Community Rank: 39
Physical Rank: 42

46: Arkansas

22 / 27 46: Arkansas

Arkansas may have produced the 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, but it’s not making any history with its health rankings. Arkansas ranks 31st in community, 32nd in sense of purpose and comes in at the bottom of the Index for social, financial and physical well-being.

Well-Being Score: 60.8
Purpose Rank: 32
Social Rank: 47
Financial Rank: 45
Community Rank: 31
Physical Rank: 47

47: Indiana

23 / 27 47: Indiana

The Hoosier state is host to the famed Indianapolis 500 car race. And while the event puts Indiana on the national stage each Memorial Day weekend, it’s not enough to lift the state's 38th ranking for community pride. Low scores for a sense of purpose, social connections and physical fitness keep the state in the bottom five of the index.

Well-Being Score: 60.5
Purpose Rank: 47
Social Rank: 49
Financial Rank: 30
Community Rank: 38
Physical Rank: 44

48: Oklahoma

24 / 27 48: Oklahoma

Despite its wide, open spaces and beautiful plains, Oklahoma ranks third-to-last in the Well-Being Index, due to high rates of obesity (33.6 percent), a lower score in community and poor social and financial well-being.

Well-Being Score: 60.5
Purpose Rank: 35
Social Rank: 48
Financial Rank: 46
Community Rank: 33
Physical Rank: 48

49: Kentucky

25 / 27 49: Kentucky

The Blue Grass State is host to the Kentucky Derby—the first leg of the Triple Crown. It also makes 95 precent of the world’s bourbon, giving rise to its equally famous drink, the Mint Julep. But in spite of these sources of civic pride, the rest of the state’s rankings don’t fare as well, with poor showings for finances and sense of purpose. And with a 49th ranking for fitness, more physical activity could help lift Kentucky from the lowest well-being state over the past eight years.

Well-Being Score: 60.5
Purpose Rank: 44
Social Rank: 41
Financial Rank: 40
Community Rank: 29
Physical Rank: 49

50: West Virginia

26 / 27 50: West Virginia

Despite possessing some truly beautiful natural spaces and a nationally renowned college football team--go Mountaineers!--West Virginia places at the bottom of the Well-Being Index for the eighth year in a row. The state ranks last in the purpose, financial, and physical categories, and next-to-last in community.

Well-Being Score: 58.9
Purpose Rank: 50
Social Rank: 45
Financial Rank: 50
Community Rank: 49
Physical Rank: 40

Learn more

27 / 27 Learn more

You know which states are the unhealthiest in the country—but which made the top 25 healthiest? See how the rest of the states rank.

Download the full 2016 State Well-Being Rankings report, part of the State of American Well-Being Series from Gallup-Healthways.

Wellness

Wellness

Wellness is a difficult word to define. Traditionally wellness has meant the opposite of illness and the absence of disease and disability. More recently wellness has come to describe something that you have personal control over. ...

Wellness is now a word used to describe living the best possible life you can regardless of whether you have a disease or disability. Your wellness is not only related to your physical health, but is a combination of things including spiritual wellness, social wellness, mental wellness and emotional wellness. Wellness is seen as a combination of mind, body and spirit. Different people may have different ideas about wellness. There is no single set standard for wellness and wellness is a difficult thing to quantify.
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