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Gallup's Top U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2010

Gallup's Top U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2010

by Elizabeth Mendes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup in 2010 published close to 100 unique articles about Americans' health and well-being. Through its daily surveys, conducted year-round, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uncovers new insights into and provides the most up-to-date data available on Americans' mental state, exercise and eating habits, healthcare coverage, physical health, and financial well-being. The following list comprises Gallup editors' picks for the most compelling findings from this year.

  1. Obesity abounds in Montgomery, Ala., and Stockton, Calif.: The two U.S. cities tied for the most obese out of 187 metro areas. In both places, 34.6% of adults were obese in 2009. Americans living in Fort Collins/Loveland, Colo., were the least obese, at 16%. Gallup will publish 2010 obesity findings by metro area in early 2011.
  2. Underemployment tanks Americans' emotional well-being: Underemployed Americans are significantly more likely to be "struggling," worried, sad, stressed, and angry than are those who are employed.
  3. Stop smoking solution: Adults who live in states with high cigarette taxes are less likely to smoke than those in states with low ones. Nationwide, slightly more than one in five adults smoke. In states with a below-average smoking rate (19%), cigarette taxes average $2.02. In states with an above-average smoking rate (24%), they average $0.94.
  4. Cancer sufferers 58% more likely to have been diagnosed with depression: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data reveal that 26.3% of Americans diagnosed with cancer have also been diagnosed with depression, far more than the 16.6% depression diagnosis rate among adults who do not have cancer.
  5. Gulf Coast residents suffer well-being setback after oil spill: Americans living in Gulf Coast-facing counties experienced a decline in their overall emotional health in the 15 weeks after the BP oil spill. Their collective Emotional Health Index score was 80.3 pre-spill and 78.5 post-spill, and clinical diagnoses of depression jumped 26%. The emotional health of those living in inland counties in the same states remained the same pre- and post-spill: 79.0 vs. 79.1.
  6. Active duty military members lead U.S. in well-being: Americans who identify themselves as active duty military personnel have a Well-Being Index score of 71.9, higher than the 68.9 for U.S. workers overall. Employed veterans' well-being score, however, falls behind that of U.S. workers overall, at 67.6.
  7. Employer-based healthcare declines: A new low of 44.8% of American adults reported getting their health insurance from an employer in November 2010. Employer-based coverage has been trending downward since Gallup started tracking it in January 2008; at that time, 50% of Americans had healthcare through their employer.

Read all of our 2010 well-being discoveries.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect Gallup's re-estimate of its Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and Life Evaluation Index data from January 2008 to April 2009. Learn more about what Gallup discovered.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. well-being and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, with a random sample of at least 1,000 adults, or roughly 30,000 adults per month, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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