Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio make up one of the calmer sections of the United States, and while these states don’t typically receive much nationwide coverage, most of the national news that comes from the area is positive. Indiana and Kentucky even enjoy lower-than-average car insurance rates, and Ohio has the lowest rates in the nation. At a glance, this area seems like a nice place to live, despite some temperamental winter weather every once in a while, but with information gleaned from the most recent Gallup-Healthways 2014 Wellbeing Index, it’s easy to see that this region isn’t as picturesque as many would think.
The information contained in the index relates to the health-related habits of residents in each respective state. Factors measured include smoking habits, obesity, vaccinations, sleep deprivation, unemployment, and mental instability, and Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio are home to some of the unhealthiest habits in the U.S. All three states made it into the bottom ten, joining Missouri, Michigan, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia. The only state on the list to be rated more miserable than Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky is West Virginia, maintaining its position at the bottom of the list for the sixth consecutive year.
Below is a complete list of the ten most miserable states to live in according to the Gallup-Healthways 2014 Wellbeing Index.
10.) Missouri (15.9% poverty rate, 6.5% unemployment rate, 30.4% obesity rate)
9.) Michigan (17% poverty rate, 8.8% unemployment rate, 31.5% obesity rate)
8.) Arkansas (19.7% poverty rate, 7.5% unemployment rate, 34.6% obesity rate)
7.) Tennessee (17.8% poverty rate, 8.2% unemployment rate, 33.7% obesity rate)
6.) Alabama (18.7% poverty rate, 6.5% unemployment rate, 32.4% obesity rate)
5.) Mississippi (24.0% poverty rate, 8.6% unemployment rate, 35.1% obesity rate)
4.) Ohio (16% poverty rate, 7.4% unemployment rate, 30.4% obesity rate)
3.) Indiana (15.9% poverty rate, 7.5% unemployment rate, 31.8% obesity rate)
2.) Kentucky (18.8% poverty rate, 8.3% unemployment rate, 33.2% obesity rate)
1.) West Virginia (18.5% poverty rate, 6.5% unemployment rate, 35.1% obesity rate)
Ohio’s main problems seem to stem from a lack of sleep, an unusually high number of smokers, and too many people refusing to vaccinate their children while Indiana’s issues seem more focused on a lack of exercise and proper nutrition. Kentucky, despite being the homeland of bourbon, had an extremely low binge drinking rate. What could be ruining Kentucky’s ranking? Obesity and mental illness are the two heavy hitters, but poverty and unemployment rates are among the highest in the country as well. West Virginia remains the most miserable place to live for the sixth year running, tied for highest obesity rates and highest number of smokers.
On a much lighter note, Alaska was rated the least miserable state in the U.S. for the very first time this year, joining Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas in the top ten healthiest states.
Did you state make the top or bottom ten? What can we all do to make our states a little nicer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!