HEALTHY LIVING
03/26/2013 11:45 pm ET | Updated Apr 01, 2013

Metro Areas With Highest And Lowest Well-Being

Where do the happiest and healthiest people live in the United States?

A new ranking from Gallup and Healthways researchers reveals which U.S. metro areas have the highest and lowest well-being, based on healthy behaviors, emotional and physical health, work environment, access to basic services and life evaluation. There were 189 metro areas included in the ranking, which was based on phone interviews with 353,563 people conducted throughout 2012.

Researchers found some differences between the metro areas that scored higher for well-being and those that scored lower. Those that scored higher had better physical health -- in that they had lower hypertension, obesity and diabetes rates -- and they also had more positive views of their living environment (seeing it as "getting better as a place to live").

Depression rates were also lower and "positive workplaces" were more common in the metro areas with higher well-being. People living in these areas were also more likely to exercise and eat fruits and vegetables.

Looking specifically at different categories that make up well-being, Ann Arbor, Mich., scored the highest for life evaluation, while Honolulu, Hawaii, scored highest for emotional health. Lincoln, Neb., scored highest for work environment; Charlottesville, Va., scored highest for physical health; and Salinas, Calif., scored highest for healthy behaviors. Holland-Grand Haven, Mich., scored highest for basic access to services.

Meanwhile, the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro area in North Carolina scored lowest for life evaluation; Charleston, W.Va., scored lowest for emotional health; and Fayetteville, N.C., scored lowest for work environment. The Huntington-Ashland metro area in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio scored lowest for physical health; Lafayette, La., scored lowest for healthy behaviors; and the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area in Texas scored lowest for basic access to services.

The 11 metro areas that scored lowest for overall well-being are:

1. Charleston, W.Va., which scored a 60.8.
2. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio, which scored a 61.2.
3. Mobile, Ala., which scored a 62.4.
4. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, which scored a 62.5.
5. Hickory-Lenoir-Morgantown, N.C., which scored a 62.7.
6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla., which scored a 62.9.
7. Bakersfield, Calif., which scored a 63.
8. Evansville, Ind.-Ky., which scored a 63.1.
9. Rockford, Ill., which scored a 63.1.
10. Spartanburg, S.C., which scored a 63.4.
11. Utica-Rome, N.Y., which scored a 63.4.

To see which metro areas ranked the highest for well-being, click through the slideshow:

Metro Areas With The Highest Well-Being, 2012

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Morganton, N.C. The spelling has been corrected.

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