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February 16, 2018

The 10 healthiest—and unhealthiest—cities in America, according to WalletHub

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    All but two of the 10 healthiest cities in the United States are on the West Coast, and three of the top cities are in California, according to an analysis by WalletHub.

    For the analysis, WalletHub examined 174 cities in the United States, including the 150 most populated cities in the country, and compared them using 40 metrics across four different areas, including:

    • Fitness;
    • Food;
    • Green space; and
    • Health care.

    Based on a weighted average of those metrics, the analysts calculated overall scores for each city.

    The healthiest US cities

    These are the 10 healthiest cities in the United States, according to WalletHub's analysis:

    1. San Francisco;
    2. Seattle;
    3. Portland, Oregon.;
    4. San Diego;
    5. Washington, D.C.;
    6. Burlington, Vermont;
    7. Scottsdale, Arizona;
    8. Honolulu;
    9. Irvine, California; and
    10. Denver.

    Meanwhile, cities at the bottom of the list—representing the least healthy cities in the country, according to the ranking—were:

    1. Memphis, Tennessee;
    2. Corpus Christi, Texas;
    3. Jackson, Mississippi;
    4. Detroit;
    5. Fort Smith, Arkansas;
    6. Gulfport, Mississippi;
    7. Shreveport, Louisiana;
    8. Augusta, Georgia;
    9. Laredo, Texas; and
    10. Brownsville, Texas

    WalletHub also provided top-five lists for specific metrics. For instance:

    • Laredo, Texas, had the lowest cost of medical visit, while Worcester, Massachusetts, had the highest;
    • Portland, Oregon, had the most healthy restaurants (defined as  vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free establishments) per capita, while Augusta, Georgia, had the fewest;
    • San Jose, California, had the lowest premature death rate, while Charleston, West Virginia, had the highest; and
    • Seattle had the highest percentage of active adults, while Newark, New Jersey, had the lowest.

    Here's WalletHub's map of all 174 cities:

    Source: WalletHub


    If you're looking to choose a healthy city to live in, John Sardelis, the associate chair of health administration and a professor at St. Joseph's College New York, said that it's important to look for good medical care and education. "Research has consistently shown a positive correlation between health status and years of education, so, indirectly, you would benefit from being part of a healthier population," he said.

    Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, said the key to a healthy city is walkability. "While riding in a car can be a convenient mode of transportation, we can be mindful of our health by making time to walk wherever we're going." She said that walking is also a great way to live a healthier lifestyle on a budget. "Walking is great physically, but also economically and socially," she said (Ellison, Becker's Hospital Review, 2/12; WalletHub list, 2/12).

    Understand the wellness spectrum

    understanding the employee wellness spectrum

    Programs aimed at promoting healthy habits among employees are likely to lead to improved employee engagement and productivity—but they're unlikely to reduce the total cost of care. To do that, you'll need to take a population health approach.

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