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29 Dec, 2012

Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Wellbeing Discoveries in 2012

Gallup Polls Media Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 28, 2012 — Gallup in 2012 published nearly 100 unique articles about Americans’ health and wellbeing. 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 wellbeing. 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 2012 wellbeing discoveries. And in case you missed it, check out what Gallup and Healthways discovered in 2011.