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April 11, 2022

America's healthiest (and unhealthiest) cities, according to WalletHub

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    WalletHub last week released its list of the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in America for 2022, ranking more than 180 metro areas across the country.

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    Methodology

    To create its list, WalletHub examined 182 cities—including 150 of the most populated U.S. cities, as well as least two of the most populated cities in each state—across four key dimensions:

    1. Health care
    2. Food
    3. Fitness
    4. Green space

    The four dimensions were evaluated on 43 relevant metrics on a 100-point scale. A weighted average across all metrics was used to calculate each city's overall score.

    The healthiest (and unhealthiest) US cities

    The 10 healthiest cities in the United States, according to WalletHub, are:

    1. San Francisco
    2. Seattle
    3. San Diego
    4. Portland, Ore.
    5. Salt Lake City
    6. Honolulu
    7. Austin
    8. Denver
    9. South Burlington, V.T.
    10. Washington, D.C.

    In comparison, the 10 unhealthiest cities, according to WalletHub, are:

    1. Brownsville, Texas
    2. Gulfport, Miss.
    3. Laredo, Texas
    4. Memphis, Tenn.
    5. Jackson, Miss.
    6. Charleston, W.V.
    7. Shreveport, La.
    8. Augusta, Ga.
    9. Columbia, Ga.
    10. Montgomery, Ala.

    In addition, WalletHub provided top-five lists for a variety of specific metrics. For example:

    • Laredo, Texas, had the lowest cost of medical visits, while Boston had the highest costs
    • San Jose, California, had the lowest premature death rates, while Augusta, Georgia, had the highest rates.
    • Seattle had the highest percentage of physically active adults, while Gulfport, Mississippi, had the lowest percentage.
    • Portland, Oregon, had the most healthy restaurants per capita, while Aurora, Illinois, had the fewest.

    Discussion

    According to Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub, "[p]eople should consider the healthiest places to live because living in a city that promotes wellness and enables access to healthy food and recreational facilities can significantly improve their quality of life."

    In its report, WalletHub spoke to a panel of experts about how people can build good personal health, including how to find a city that is good for their health.

    Jan Carney, the associate dean for public health and health policy at the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine, recommends that people learn about health resources in the communities they live or want to live in to determine their "health strengths and challenges." Carney recommends the Country Health Rankings & Roadmaps website, which allows people to see health care, physical environment, social and economic, and quality of life factors in any U.S. county.

    For people looking to be healthy on a budget, Amy Lynn McGuire, director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Baylor College of Medicine, recommends making small adjustments to daily routines.

    "Make the time to take a walk in the evening, wake up a few minutes early to stretch or do yoga, or bring your sneakers to work and walk around the office during your lunch break," she said.

    "Health is indeed a long-term investment, but it is also important in the here and now," McGuire added. "Living a healthy lifestyle now can help prevent future medical problems, but it can also enhance our present life experience[.]" (McCann, WalletHub, 4/4; Moya, USA Today, 4/8)

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