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Survey: Newton residents unhappy, unhealthy

COVINGTON -- Newton County residents are among the unhappiest and unhealthiest people in the nation, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a nationwide survey aimed at evaluating the overall health of Americans.

The 8th Congressional District, which runs from Covington south to Moultrie in Colquitt County, covering most of central Georgia, was the lowest ranked district in the state and ranked 373rd out of 435 congressional districts nationwide.

Nine of the top 10 well-being states are in the Midwest and the West while seven of the 10 lowest ranked are in the South. Georgia ranked right in the middle at 25th.

"Socioeconomic conditions contribute to it. In this recession, we've probably seen a heightened disparity" between the poor and more affluent and rural and urbanized areas, said Eric Nielsen, senior director of media strategies at Gallup.

Overall well-being rank was figured based on six sub-categories. Out of the nation's 435 congressional districts, here's how the Eighth District ranked:

* Life evaluation -- how people assessed their lives right now and five years from now -- 279th

* Emotional health -- evaluation of laughter, happiness, worry, anger and stress -- 184th

* Physical health -- measuring chronic disease, sick days and other factors --375th

* Healthy behavior -- examining smoking, exercise, consumption of fruit and vegetables -- 356th

* Work environment -- job satisfaction and conditions at work -- 359th

* Basic access - to food, medicine, health insurance and safety -- 365th.

More than 350,000 interviews were conducted among adults age 18 and older across all 50 states for the survey.

Hawaii's residents had the highest well-being in the nation. Utah and Montana are also at the top of the list, while Kentucky and West Virginia have the two lowest scores.

Gallup and Healthways started tracking state-level well-being in 2008 and have committed to continuing the survey for 25 years.

"We believe that changing the well-being of U.S. adults is going to come from the local community. We wanted to give local leaders a way to pinpoint areas where they can focus their dollars into changing the lives of citizens," Nielsen said.

To view the entire index, go to www.gallup.com and click on "Well-Being."