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North Dakota is #1 and West Virginia is #50 in Annual Gallup-Healthways State Well-Being Rankings
[February 20, 2014]

North Dakota is #1 and West Virginia is #50 in Annual Gallup-Healthways State Well-Being Rankings

WASHINGTON & NASHVILLE, Tenn. --(Business Wire)--

For the sixth consecutive year, global well-being improvement leader Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and world-leading management consulting firm Gallup have released their analysis of the state of well-being across the United States. North Dakota and West Virginia bookended the list, with top and bottom rankings, respectively. The analysis is based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, a definitive measure and empiric database of real-time changes in well-being throughout the world. More than 178,000 interviews nationwide fueled the 2013 analysis, which examined Americans' perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and healthcare, to create a composite well-being rank for each state.

The ten states with the highest well-being in the nation are:

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Vermont
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Washington
  • Iowa

Certain states stand out for specific well-being achievements, as reported by their residents. Colorado, for example, is always at or near the best in the nation for the lowest obesity rate. Utah has the lowest smoking rate. Massachusetts residents have had the greatest access to health insurance in all six years that the rankings have occurred. New Jersey has the lowest levels of depression, and people in Vermont eat more produce than people in any other state.

"States that score high in well-being have achieved success in creating environments where people can live their best lives, something that goes far beyond physical wellness and traditional health risk factors," explained Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. "Individuals in these states are motivated to achieve their goals, enjoy what they do each day, feel safe and financially secure, have pride in their communities, and have the supportive relationships and good health they need to get things done each day. We not only commend the top finishers but recognize Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska and Vermont for achieving the distinction of being in the top 10 for two years in a row."

Understanding the Vlue of Well-Being

According to James E. Pope, M.D., senior vice president and chief science officer at Healthways, both measuring and improving well-being are becoming increasingly important to governments, communities, healthcare organizations and employers.

"Achieving high levels of well-being is a strategic imperative for all types of organizations because it unlocks economic value on so many levels. In short, healthier people cost less and perform better," Dr. Pope stated. "Our partnership with Gallup helps us continue to advance the science of well-being and create a definitive measure of well-being for individuals and across populations. Measuring well-being ultimately helps organizations systematically improve well-being because measurement helps organizations establish a baseline, determine where they should invest resources and then identify the impact of those investments."

Research shows a strong link between well-being, healthcare costs and engagement in the workplace. Each point in well-being improvement equates to a statistically significant percent decrease in the likelihood of hospital admission and emergency room visits and in the likelihood of incurring healthcare costs.

For a community, the achievement of higher well-being for its citizens yields competitive advantage for economic development and job creation. For employers, it means greater productivity and better health in the workforce and dependent families, resulting in better business performance. For individuals, it simply means living well, longer.

"Comparatively speaking, the difference between states is not as notable as the fact that so much room for improvement still exists, even for the top states," said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Healthways. "Steady improvement in well-being is indeed possible even where well-being is already strong, as Montana, Vermont, Nebraska and Iowa have shown these last several years. Consumers have made the connection between lifestyles and behaviors, and between quality of life and longevity. Strong leadership and proven solutions that identify opportunities, break down barriers and encourage sustained consumer engagement in well-being improvement activities are the key to community, organizational and individual transformation."

Working Together to Improve the Health of Populations and Individuals

In 2008, Gallup and Healthways initiated a 25-year partnership merging decades of clinical research and development expertise, health leadership and behavioral economics research to track and understand the key factors that drive well-being. Together, the organizations have built the world's largest data set on well-being to support their mutual goals of helping governments, communities and businesses better understand and improve the health of both populations and individuals.

Launched that same year, the Well-Being Index provides unmatched, in-depth insight into the well-being of populations. Gallup conducts 500 telephone interviews a day with Americans to gather their perceptions of well-being, for a resulting sample that represents an estimated 95 percent of all U.S. households. In 2013, Gallup and Healthways extended the reach of the Well-Being Index beyond the United States; global leaders now have the ability to benchmark the well-being of their country against the results of roughly 140 countries around the world.

To access the "State of American Well-Being: 2013 State Rankings and Analysis," report visit The full "State of American Well-Being: 2013 State, Community and Congressional District Analysis" will be available online in April at

About Gallup

Gallup delivers forward-thinking research, analytics, and advice to help leaders solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 75 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of the world's constituents, employees, and customers than any other organization. Gallup consultants help private and public sector organizations boost organic growth through measurement tools, strategic advice, and education. Gallup's 2,000 professionals deliver services at client organizations, through the Web, and in nearly 40 offices around the world.

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant's health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 45 million people on four continents. Learn more at

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