Entries in Hawaii (6)


W.Va. the Most Stressed State, Hawaii the Least

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If your nerves are a bit frazzled, chances are you live in West Virginia. According to the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released earlier Wednesday, residents of this state are the most stressed-out in the nation.

Gallup has been tracking the daily stress levels of Americans since 2008. To find out how much the average citizen feels emotional and psychological stress and enjoys life on a daily basis, they polled more than 350,000 people by phone — despite the fact that numerous studies show increased phone usage can increase anxiety.

Besides West Virginians, more people who live in Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah and Massachusetts reported a case of frayed nerves the previous day. In all those states over 40 percent of those surveyed admitted they felt some level of stress the day before being interviewed.

More people from Rhode Island, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia seem to be having a miserable time. Nearly 20 percent of people in those states told interviewers they did not enjoy themselves the day before.

Hawaiians, on the other hand, are mellow compared with those who live in the lower 48. For the second year in a row, they seemed to be the most immune to emotional stress and more likely to feel enjoyment. A mere 32 percent of Hawaiians reported feeling stressed out and nearly 90 percent said they were enjoying life. (President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.)

Other states with the fewest anxious residents included Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi and Wyoming. After Hawaii, the states with the highest reported enjoyment levels were Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota and Idaho.

The researchers aren’t clear what the association is between stress and enjoyment, but many of the states with the highest stress levels were also states where people seemed to be having the least fun. And rankings have remained fairly consistent, with stress levels in all states remaining statistically unchanged in 2012 compared with 2011.

For example, Hawaii has ranked as the state with the lowest percentage of residents reporting stress on the prior day all five years the survey has been conducted. West Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah, have each ranked within the top five most stressed states for the past five years. West Virginia ranked as the most stressed state in 2012, Kentucky was the top state for stress in 2008 and 2011, and Utah was the top state for stress in 2009 and 2010.

Residents in other high-stress states, Kentucky and West Virginia, were also among the least likely to experience enjoyment. Both of these states have appeared among the bottom five states for experiencing enjoyment at least three times since Gallup began reporting this measure, including last year’s poll.

Regionally, states with stress levels at or above 42 percent were clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, but also included Utah, Oregon, and Washington. Utah is unique in that it routinely ranks among both the highest stress and highest enjoyment states. The researchers said they believed this underscores the complex relationship between stress and other emotions.

On average, 40.6 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed “yesterday” in this year’s survey and almost 85 percent reported feeling enjoyment “yesterday.”

You can find your state's ranking in the full report.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Hawaii Tops Well-Being List for Fourth Consecutive Year

iStockphoto/Thinkstock - Hawaii(NEW YORK) -- Hawaii has ranked highest on a well-being survey for the fourth year in a row, according to a new Gallup poll.

Weather wasn’t even a variable. On a local level, in fact, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed that Lincoln, Neb., ranked number one, a state that doesn’t share Hawaii’s sultry breezes.

“It’s safe to say weather probably isn’t a factor there,” Bruce Middlebrooks, Healthways spokesman, told

Colorado took the runner-up position, on a slate of 50 measures that looked at factors including emotional health, work environment and access to healthcare. West Virginia placed at the bottom of the list, with Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee not far behind — states with low median household incomes, said the survey, released Thursday.

Residents of Hawaii ratcheted up their happiness in 2012 compared even with a year earlier, with a score of 71.1 out of 100 compared with 70.2 in 2011.

Western, Midwestern and New England states generally ranked higher than the rest of the country, while Southern states placed in many of the lowest spots. Rankings remained mostly unchanged since 2008 when Gallup and Healthways began the survey, Gallup said.

The motivation behind the research is to help improve people’s health through awareness and pilot projects on a community level, Dr. James Pope, vice-president and chief science officer of Healthways, told

“We knew that people in the U.S. were getting more unhealthy over time and we recognized that there are differences around the country in terms of chronic disease,” Pope said.

Things might be looking up nationwide as the Affordable Care Act of 2010 gets into gear, the Gallup statement noted. The act, which requires all individuals to have health insurance or pay a fine, will make it easier for people to get treatment at no cost for everything from smoking cessation to obesity counseling.

“Certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act … may help low-income individuals improve their wellbeing, if they aware of and take advantage of them,” Gallup said.

Massachusetts, the state with the highest percentage of residents with health insurance in the country, scored the top rank for access to “basic necessities,” the survey noted. This category also looked at whether residents believed they had enough money for food, shelter and medicine, a safe place to exercise and access to clean water. Mississippi ranked lowest here.

Vermont wins when it comes to healthy behaviors. Residents in that state had the highest percentage of residents who ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days per week, according to the survey, which was based on telephone interviews with 350,000 Americans. On an individual level, the survey found that doctors were typically in better health than the average person and those who “are engaged in their work” were likely to lead healthier lifestyles.

In 2011, the index defined the happiest person in America as a tall, Asian-American male 65 or older, a resident of Hawaii who’s married with children, religious, owns a business and earns more than $120,000 a year.

It’s important to note that individuals and communities are malleable, however, said Dr. Lindsay Sears, principal investigator at Healthways. With the right policies put in place by healthcare groups and local businesses, especially, big changes can happen.

“People can really change over time,” she said. “You might think people or even communities are the way they are, but we’ve seen from five years of research that people are able to change and sustain that change.”

A Hawaiian psychologist chalked up her native state’s top spot to a relaxing natural landscape and a local culture that prizes collectivism.

“Thank aloha spirit that’s hard to define,” June Ching, a Honolulu-based clinical psychologist, told

As Ching spoke, she was driving into a parking lot and an attendant left her booth to hand the ticket to Ching, who couldn’t reach it.

“A perfect example of what I mean,” said Ching, a former president of the Hawaii Psychological Association. “[Hawaiian culture] has been composed of a lot of people with values that have to do with the family and a sense of collectivism. We’re working together.”

As for the stunning scenery, “I love not having seasonal affective disorder because we have the sun,” Ching said. “The sky has a different kind of blue that soothes you.”

Click here to see where your state ranks.

Highest-Ranked States

    New Hampshire

Lowest-Ranked States

    West Virginia

Highest-Ranked Metropolitan Areas

    Lincoln, Neb.
    Boulder, Colo.
    Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.
    Provo-Orem, Utah
    Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
    Barnstable Town, Mass.
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Ann Arbor, Mich.
    Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C., Va., Md., W. Va.
    San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


APEC Spouses’ Event Hosted by First Lady Focuses on Local Menu

Comstock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- In an interview with at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival in October, chef Ed Kenney revealed that he’d most like to cook with Michelle Obama. “I think the message that she sent in planting a White House garden, internationally, was [that] America is serious about food, health and reconnecting to the earth,” said Kenney. “Her ‘Let’s Move’ initiative with getting kids out and active, eating regular food, saying no to KFC and Mickey D’s, it would probably have to be Michelle Obama.” 

This past weekend, at an event the first lady held for the spouses of leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in Hawaii, Kenney got his chance.

Kenney prepared a menu tailored to the fresh food of the MA’O Organic farm and Michelle Obama’s health initiative.  MA’O helps the community with workshops on traditional Hawaiian farming practices geared to young people and families.  Young people intern at the farm in exchange for educational financial assistance.

“The fresh fruits and vegetables that you’ll be eating today were grown and prepared by some phenomenal young people at a local organic farm under the guidance of a great Hawaiian chef, chef Ed Kenney,” Michelle Obama said in her speech at the luncheon.

After harvesting the vegetables with the young people from the farm the day before,  Kenney planned a menu using the seasonal ingredients they’d collected.  The first course consisted of MA’O organic farm beets, arugula, and clementine with naked cow eairy feta and pistachio.  Fresh fish from Kaneohe Bay, MA’O organic farm root vegetables, pa’i ‘ai and limu vinaigrette made up the main course.  The fish had been caught the day before.  For dessert, Kenney created a Meyer lemon tart and fresh local fruit from the farm.

Kenney is on the advisory board for the MA’O Organic Farm and the owner of Town and Downtown restaurants.  His cooking mantra is “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Retired Doctor to Test Physician-Assisted Death Law in Hawaii

Courtesy Robert Orfali(HONOLULU) -- Jeri Orfali was a top software executive in the early days of Silicon Valley, author of several books and was even professionally courted by Steve Jobs until, like Jobs, she was struck down with cancer at the age of 56.

"You don't think about how someone dies from cancer," said her husband of 30 years, Robert Orfali.  "No one tells you what really happens.  It took me by surprise, everything."

The Orfalis settled in Hawaii, where his wife was eventually diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died in 2009.  In her final days, she bore excruciating pain that was not helped by palliative care.

"In the end I could see tumors coming out of her legs and in her neck," he said.  "Her legs were swollen and her stomach was so bloated, the cancer almost burst out of her.  She couldn't get her next breath."

There is no dignity in dying, according to Orfali, who was so horrified by his wife's suffering that he wrote two books on the topic and has pushed to see Hawaii be the fourth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

And now, experts working with the national group, Compassion and Choices, and the Hawai'i Death With Dignity Society, have unearthed a 102-year-old provision in Hawaiian law that they say means aid in dying has been legal all along:

"[W]hen a duly licensed physician or osteopathic physician pronounces a person affected with any disease hopeless and beyond recovery and gives a written certificate to that effect to the person affected or the person's attendant, nothing herein shall forbid any person from giving or furnishing any remedial agent or measure when so requested by or on behalf of the affected person."

Advocates say the provision was added in 1909 to give dying patients the option to get treatment that may not have been approved by the government.  It likely arose out of now-canonized Father Damien's missionary work on the Island of Molokai with those who suffered from leprosy.

Some retired doctors now say they are poised to go ahead and help those who seek aid in dying, provided they meet guidelines established by a law in Oregon, where doctors have been legally allowed to end a terminal patient's suffering since 1997.

Since then, Washington and Montana have also legalized aid in dying.

"I think there is very little risk on my part if I did that," said Dr. Robert "Nate" Nathanson, 77, a retired general practitioner from Oahu, who said he has kept his medical license current so he could test the existing law. "If you qualify and your own doctor won't do it, I would be willing."

Nathanson and Orfali were part of a recent forum on that legal provision and have been advocates for what they call "death with dignity."  Advocates say that just having the lethal pills gives terminally ill patients peace of mind that they can control their lives and their death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hawaii Is the Happiest State in the Nation, Survey Finds

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If Hawaii’s sunshine and beautiful beaches aren’t enough to get you to travel to The Aloha State, perhaps the happiness of its citizens will do the trick.

Hawaii is the happiest state in the nation in 2011, according to a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. America's 50th state ranked number one, followed by North Dakota and Alaska.  At the bottom of the list is West Virginia.

The Well-Being Index score is an average of several factors, including job satisfaction, physical health, emotional health, access to health care and community satisfaction.  Scores are calculated on an ascending scale of 0 to 100.  The Well-Being Index is based on surveys of more than 177,000 Americans conducted between January and June 2011.

Here are the 50 U.S. states in order of their well-being scores:

Hawaii: 71.1
North Dakota: 70.5
Alaska: 69.4
Nebraska: 68.4
Minnesota: 68.3
Colorado: 68.3
Utah: 68.1
New Hampshire: 67.9
Iowa: 67.9
Kansas: 67.8
Vermont: 67.8
Maryland: 67.8
Massachusetts: 67.7
South Dakota: 67.6
Virginia: 67.6
California: 67.5
Washington: 67.2
Oregon: 67.2
Montana: 67.1
Connecticut: 66.9
Arizona: 66.9
New Mexico: 66.8
Idaho: 66.7
Wisconsin: 66.6
Maine: 66.6
Texas: 66.6
New Jersey: 66.5
Wyoming: 66.5
North Carolina: 66.5
Rhode Island: 66.2
Illinois: 66.2
Georgia: 66.2
Delaware: 66.0
Nevada: 65.9
Pennsylvania: 65.8
Michigan: 65.8
South Carolina: 65.7
Florida: 65.4
New York: 65.2
Missouri: 65.1
Alabama: 65.1
Indiana: 64.9
Arkansas: 64.9
Oklahoma: 64.8
Tennessee: 64.7
Louisiana: 64.6
Ohio: 64.4
Mississippi: 63.6
Kentucky: 63.0
West Virginia: 62.4

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Happiest Person in America? Meet Alvin Wong, 69-Year-Old Hawaiian

Digital Vision/Thinkstock (HONOLULU) -- Alvin Wong always considered himself a happy guy.

"I get up in the morning and say, 'I'm very fortunate. I'm living in Hawaii, doing what I want to do,'" Wong said.

But when Wong, 69, learned he is the exact statistical composite of the happiest person in America, he wasn't sure what to think. 

"When The New York Times called and read off all the information about who this person is, I asked if it was a practical joke."

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the happiest person in America is a tall, Asian-American male 65 or older, a resident of Hawaii who's married with children, religious (observant Jews score highest), owns a business and earns more than $120,000 a year -- in other words, it's Alvin Wong to a tee.

"A person fitting the happiest profile is likely to have high optimism, good emotional health with little anger, depression, and stress, and no underlying chronic illnesses. This person is likely to eat right and exercise regularly, while working in a supportive environment with good access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, a safe place to exercise, and good access to health care. The person is also likely to be older and better established with enough money to live comfortably," said John Harris, vice president of Innovations at Healthways.

Wong, who owns a health care management firm, said owning his own business has different stresses, such as not knowing whether clients will stick with him, but overall, it's very satisfying.

"I enjoy doing stuff for myself and seeing the fruits of my labor," he said.

Back in 2008, Gallup, a firm known for its research polls, and Healthways, a company focusing on research aimed at improving overall health and lowering associated costs, started calling thousands of Americans a night. They asked questions about six different dimensions of well-being: a basic evaluation of life, emotional and physical health, work environment, engaging in a healthy lifestyle and whether access to basic health services is available.

They then developed a well-being index for each state and each congressional district.

Data from the 2010 index show that Hawaii had the highest well-being score and West Virginia had the lowest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio