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Gallup's Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2012

Gallup's Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2012

by Elizabeth Mendes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup in 2012 published nearly 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 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 top 10 most compelling findings from this year.

  1. The upside -- and downside -- of entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs in the U.S. are generally more optimistic about their future than are other workers. But entrepreneurs also experience slightly more stress and worry compared to other U.S. workers. Bonus finding: Entrepreneurs are in better health.
  2. Fewer young adults are uninsured: The percentage of 18- to 25-year-old Americans who are uninsured continued to decline in 2012. The 23.4% who lacked health insurance in the third quarter of the year is down from 28% in the third quarter of 2010 -- the last quarter before the provision in the new healthcare law allowing Americans up to age 26 to remain on their parents' plans went into effect.
  3. Liking where you live is good for your health: Americans who are satisfied with their community or feel it is getting better as a place report fewer health problems -- such as headaches, obesity, and asthma -- than those who are dissatisfied and see their city as getting worse.
  4. Republicans are down and out: In addition to losing their chance at the White House, Republicans are also losing their positive outlook on life. Republicans' life ratings dropped nearly seven points in November, while Democrats' life ratings improved.
  5. Middle-age biggest overweight risk factor: Being middle-aged in the U.S. is more closely linked to having a high Body Mass Index than are 25 other factors Gallup and Healthways analyzed. Being black is the second most significant factor related to having a high BMI. Importantly, Gallup found that these relationships held true even while controlling for age, ethnicity, race, marital status, gender, employment, income, education, and region.
  6. Physicians set a good example, health-wise: U.S. physicians are much less likely than other Americans to be obese and to have high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression. Nurses, on the other hand, are no healthier than the rest of the population.
  7. Use your strengths and stress less: The more hours in the day that Americans get to use their strengths to do what they do best, the more likely they are to experience positive emotions and the less likely they are to experience negative ones. Americans who use their strengths a lot also have a lot more energy.
  8. Stay-at-home moms are more depressed: Women who stay at home with their children are more likely than working moms to report depression, sadness, and anger. Stay-at-home moms also rate their lives less highly and are less likely to experience happiness and enjoyment. These differences persist across age and income groups.
  9. Uptick in exercise coincides with warmer than usual year: More Americans reported exercising frequently in almost every month this year than they did in the same month in 2011. This uptick in exercise occurred during what has been was of the warmest years on record for the U.S.
  10. Engaged employees like to go to work: American workers who are engaged in their job find it easier to go back to work on Mondays -- they feel just as positive on weekdays as they do on weekends. Those who are either not engaged or disengaged at work see their mood go sour on Mondays. Bonus finding: Engaged employees also don't mind commuting to work.

Read all of our well-being discoveries. And in case you missed it, check out what Gallup and Healthways discovered in 2011.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S., U.K., and Germany 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 each day, 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.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. 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, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 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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