Ark., Mo. Listed as two of America’s most miserable states

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A new Gallup poll ranks Arkansas and Missouri as two of America's most miserable states.

Arkansas and Missouri are in the top 10 on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, ranking 7th and 8th respectively.

24/7 Wall St. analyzed how the poll evaluated several areas of well-being, including emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment, poverty levels, and education on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being ideal.

Missouri's 2011 well-being index score is 64.8.  The score moved up on the 2010 from 17th worst to 8th worst in the country.

Kyle McDaniel isn't shocked by the results of the new poll. "(It) doesn't surprise me at all. From what I know, Arkansas usually comes in last in most studies like that, especially (concerning) education, physical fitness, things like that."

The obesity rate for Missouri is the 10th highest in the country at 30.5 percent, according to the poll.  The state has the 11th highest rate of smokers in the U.S. at 21 percent, and the life expectancy for Missourians is 77.4 years.

Five of the top ten states on the list are in the South. Better Life Counseling clinical coordinator Jeff Cline said the prevalence of Southern states on the list is no coincidence. "I think there's just a lot of life stressors here in the state."

Arkansas scored a 64.7 on the well-being index.  The obesity rate in Arkansas is slightly lower than Missouri's at 30.1 percent.   The life expectancy of Arkansans is the 6th lowest in the country at 76.1 years, according to the survey.

"I think we find certain trends based on culture and based on geography. Certainly in the South we see higher rates of smoking. We see less concern perhaps for physical activity," Cline said.

Cline said a person's well-being can't be compartmentalized."We're integrated, so our thoughts, as well as our emotions and behaviors, all affect the degree that we have wellness."

McDaniel and Darlene Jordan have made the connection between overall well-being and physical activity. "When you're working out you feel better. You feel more alive, especially after the workout. A lot of that has to do with psychological factors or endorphins just running through your system," McDaniel said.

"I'm pretty much a happy person all the time, but when I feel better about myself it carries on to the way I carry myself around other people," Jordan said.

Cline said people need to focus on controlling internal rather than external factors. "We have the pressed economy which I think affects people's overall health and wellness."

"One of the things that is very important is that we look at what our general perception is about life. 'I might not be able to change the circumstances going on around me, but one of the things that I can do is really look at what can I do in terms of my own thoughts and perceptions.'"

Median Household Income

Arkansas:  $38, 307 (3rd lowest)

Missouri: $44, 301 (14th lowest)

Adult Population with high school diploma or higher

Arkansas: 82.9% (7th lowest)

Missouri: 86.9% (22nd lowest)

America's Most Miserable States

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kentucky
  3. Mississippi
  4. Delaware
  5. Ohio
  6. Alabama
  7. Arkansas
  8. Missouri
  9. Florida
  10. Tennessee

America's Happiest States

  1. Hawaii
  2. North Dakota
  3. Minnesota
  4. Utah
  5. Alaska
  6. Colorado
  7. Kansas
  8. Nebraska
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Montana

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