Overall well-being in the U.S. reached a record high in 2016, according to the latest annual Gallup-Healthways State Well-Being Rankings released Wednesday. Iowa's relative ranking among the states is now 19th for well-being, compared with 14th in the prior year's report.

Nationwide, 2016 ushered in historically low smoking rates and high rates of exercise as well as the highest scores yet recorded in several health care access measures, including health insurance coverage.

At the same time, chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and depression are now at their highest points since 2008.

The report measures how each state leads and lags across five elements of well-being.

The five elements and how Iowa ranked among the states in each measure:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals (No. 22).
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life (No. 42).
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security (No. 5).
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community (No. 12).
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily (No. 35).

Based on those factors, Iowa's overall well-being score was 62.6, giving it a ranking of 19th-best among the states. By comparison, the highest-ranked state, Hawaii, had a score of 65.2, which was the highest score of any state in the last three years. Hawaii also led the nation in financial, community and physical well-being measures. At the bottom of the rankings was West Virginia, with a 58.9 ranking.

Iowa has used the report as a yardstick for its progress in tracking how well it's doing in its goal to become the healthiest state in the nation through the Healthiest State Iowa initiative that began in 2011. That initiative was revamped in November with the Healthy Hometown program to encourage development of sustainable health improvements on a community-by-community basis.

Interested communities can submit a Healthy Hometown Statement of Interest available at the Healthiest State Initiative website.

To read a Business Record story recapping the initial five years of Healthiest State Iowa and what's next, click here.