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Rick Steelhammer: We're not only sick, but we're liars too?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you live in West Virginia, you're more likely to be depressed and unhealthy -- and then lie about it -- than a resident of any other state, according to a pair of recently released polls.

In addition to coming in dead last in well-being, West Virginia also placed last in the categories of life evaluation, emotional health and physical heath, according to the Gallup-Healthways poll.

West Virginia's two largest cities finished neck to jowly neck at the back of the pack in the ratings for the nation's 200 largest metropolitan areas, with Huntington-Ashland placing 188th in overall well-being, just ahead of Charleston at 189th.

Hawaii was rated the top state in the nation in terms of well-being as well as the other two categories in which West Virginia was ranked last. The Aloha State's high ranking might have something to do with being a tropical island paradise offering a laid-back approach to life. Then again, it could be related to Hawaii's first-in-the-nation status in per capita Spam consumption.

In a somewhat less scientific poll conducted by the Honest Tea Co., unstaffed kiosks were set up in cities across the nation, offering organic ice tea at $1 a pop. Those picking up a bottle of cold tea were asked to deposit $1 in an honor-system cash box.

I remember walking past just such a kiosk a couple of weeks ago in downtown Charleston, next to the Kanawha County Public Library. I wanted to try the tea, but didn't have any cash with me at the time -- I work for a newspaper, after all -- so I walked on by.

As it turns out, Honest Tea tabulates the percentage of tea drinkers who paid for the beverages, and uses hidden observers to describe and keep track of the types of tea drinkers more likely to adhere to the honor system.

I won't lie to you -- West Virginia finished last among states in the just-released Honest Tea Honesty Index, with 15 percent of those picking up bottles of tea from kiosks in the Mountain State opting not to pay for it.

The just-released Honest Tea Honesty Index rated West Virginia last among states, with an 85 percent honesty rate. Healthy, happy Hawaii once again was rated at the top of nation, with a 100 percent honesty rate, which was matched by Alabama. The only place rated lower than West Virginia was the nonstate of Washington, D.C., which already had a reputation as an honesty-challenged locale. There, in the seat of federal government, fully 20 percent of those picking up bottles of Honest tea walked off without paying.

Overall, 92 percent of Americans visiting an Honest Tea kiosk this year paid for what they took. Overall, blond women were the most-honest Honest Tea drinkers, according to the survey, with men wearing glasses finishing a close second.

I plan to boost my mental and moral health this year by spending more time thinking about surf and sand, and less time thinking about poll results. I'll also be eating more Spam, and washing it down with nonshoplifted ice tea.

But before you join me, keep this in mind: There's a 15 percent chance I'm lying to you.


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