The list ranks the health and happiness of US states. Source: Gallup News

The United States is a very diverse country. Often referred to as the land of plenty, there is so much history and culture that forms this country. However, one of the core identities of the US is the federal system of governance. The independent states that form the USA are all important but it seems that a few states are happier and healthier than others.

The Gallup-ShareCare Index that tracks Americans’ well-being has finally released its 2017 report. The report assesses Americans’ physical health, community, finances, social connections, and their sense of purpose. We have the list here with us. The top spot is, however, a tie. South Dakota and Vermont are ranked as the happiest and healthiest states for 2017.

Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup ShareCare Index, says that it wasn’t surprising to see Vermont and South Dakota take the top spots. He added that historically, levels of well-being in these two states have always been high. The study says that residents in the two states have a lot of great things going for them. For starters, physical health seems to be relatively better compared to other states. In addition to this, the Gallup ShareCare study found that the residents feel safe, they are proud of their communities, and their finances are well managed.

South Dakota and Vermont tied for first place. Source: Market Watch

South Dakota, in particular, was very impressive. The study notes that many of the residents who were surveyed reported very low levels of stress. As for the residents in Vermont, it’s all about love and social solidarity. The study revealed that social relationships in the state are very strong and they have played a key role in offering social support.

The following is the full top five list:

  1. South Dakota (tied with Vermont)
  2. Vermont
  3. Hawaii
  4. Minnesota
  5. North Dakota

However, the top ten list has changed a lot since Gallup first started ranking states in 2008. Only the states of Colorado and Hawaii have always managed to make the top ten cut since 2008. In this year’s list, Colorado came in modestly at 6th which is not a bad showing.

West Virginia was ranked last. Source: VT Free Masons

But that’s enough for the top performers. Let’s now look at the states ranked last in the index. West Virginia has been a mainstay in the last five ranked states. It’s not a good statistic but it’s the reality. The state once again was ranked last in the 2017 index.

The Gallup ShareCare study notes that the rate of obesity in the state is very high. In addition to this, the prevalence of diabetes is high with the rate of smoking also worrying. Other states included in the bottom five include Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Overall, the research found that 2017 was not a good year for US well-being. The performance of many individual states declined. Although physical health remained steady, other important measures including emotional support and psychological and mental health all worsened. The study noted that the rate of depression among Americans was relatively higher in 2017 compared to 2016.