Gallup: Michelle Obama’s Former Congressional District Dead Last for ‘Healthy Behavior’

By Terence P. Jeffrey | March 30, 2011 | 2:05 PM EDT

First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at a board meeting of the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2010. (Associated Press photo)

( - The former home congressional district of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama ranks dead last in the United States for “healthy behavior,” according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released this month.

Out of 436 districts measured by the Well-Being Index—including the 435 U.S. Congressional Districts plus the District of Columbia—the 1st Congressional District of Illinois ranked 436th for the “healthy behavior” of its residents in 2010. That was down from the district’s ranking of 408th for “healthy behavior” in 2009, which was Mrs.Obama’s first year as first lady.

Every one of the Gallup-Healthways top ten Congressional Districts for “healthy behavior” was in California. That state’s 46th District, represented by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.), was ranked No. 1, and its 14th District, represented by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D.), ranked No. 2.

The second worst Congressional District in the nation for the “healthy behavior” of its residents was Kentucky’s 5th District, which is represented by Rep. Hal Rogers (R.). As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rogers has more control over congressional pork than any member of that body.

In 2000, then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush in the Democratic primary for the 1st District of Illinois. Rush defeated Obama, 61 percent to 30 percent. After that race, the 1st District was redrawn--putting the Obamas’ home just beyond its borders. “Surely not by coincidence, redistricting shifted Obama's Hyde Park home two blocks outside the new lines and removed the 19th Ward that he had carried,” says the Almanac of American Politics.

Depending on how you look at it, the 1st District of Illinois’ dead last ranking for “healthy behavior” may be either ironic or fitting, given that Mrs. Obama has made encouraging healthy behavior a hallmark of her service as first lady.

The Well-Being Index is the result of a partnership formed in 2008 between Gallup, a polling company, and Healthways, a health-care company, to develop a system for systematically measuring the well-being of Americans.

The overall index is comprised of six different sub-indices: “life evaluation,” “emotional health,” “physical health,” “healthy behavior,” “work environment,” and “basic access.” To measure these things nationwide, Gallup polls approximately 1,000 Americans every day of the year except major holidays. For the 2010 Well-Being Index, Gallup interviewed 352,400 people. (In 2009, it interviewed 353,849 people.)

“The Healthy Behavior Sub-Index includes items measuring life style habits with established relationships to health outcomes,” Gallup-Healthways says in a report on the survey. To derive the “healthy behavior” rating, the survey asked respondents about four things: smoking, eating healthy, weekly consumption of fruits and vegetables and frequency of exercise during the week.

As noted in Mrs. Obama’s biography on the White House website, one of her projects as first lady has been “fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country.”

Top Ten Congressional Districts for Healthy Behavior

Rank                District                         Representative

1                      California 46                 Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.)

2                      California 14                 Rep. Anna Eshoo (D.)

3                      California 3                   Rep. Dan Lungran (R.)

4.                     California 36                 Vacant

5.                     California 7                   Rep. George Miller (D.)

6                      California 48                 Rep. John Campbell (R.)

7                      California 24                 Rep. Elton Gallegly (R.)

8                      California 47                 Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D.)

9                      California 30                 Rep. Henry Waxman (D.)

10                    California 50                 Rep. Brian Bilbray (R.)


Bottom Ten Congressional Districts for Healthy Behavior

Rank                District                         Representative

427                  Illinois 4                         Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D.)

428                  Louisiana 3                   Rep. Jeff Landry (R.)

429                  Ohio 3                           Rep. Michael Turner (R.)

430                  Arkansas 1                    Rep. Rick Crawford (R.)

431                  Texas 8                         Rep. Kevin Brady (R.)

432                  Michigan 13                  Rep. Hansen Clarke (D.)

433                  Kentucky 2                    Rep. Brett Guthrie (R.)

434                  Ohio 7                           Rep. Steve Austria (R.)

435                  Kentucky 5                    Rep. Harold Rogers (R.)

436                  Illinois 1                         Rep. Bobby Rush (D.)