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These are the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the US

A report out of WalletHub found some cities are healthier than others in terms of nutritional food access, care costs and more.
These are the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the US
Posted at 7:50 PM, Apr 01, 2024

Feeling like no matter what you do, you just can't get your health in check? Maybe it's not just you (and that late-night Taco Bell); it's your city. 

A report out of WalletHub says American cities aren't created equal when it comes to residents' health and wellness: Some spots go above and beyond to help inhabitants — such as through access to nutritious foods or efforts to keep health care costs affordable — while others leave residents to fend for themselves.

But as you can guess, the cities that give a little boost to their community by way of green spaces, recreation centers, etc. have healthier and happier neighbors. 

So how does your city rank?

Source: WalletHub

Well, after comparing 182 of the country's most-populated cities across 41 key health indicators, WalletHub found that the West Coast and its waters are doing a pretty good job: Eight of the top 14 healthiest places to live in the U.S. are in Western states, and four of those are the top four. 

Starting with No. 1, San Francisco got the overall highest score, in part because it has the lowest share of obese adults in the U.S. — 19% of the population, according to WalletHub. It also has the second-lowest share of residents who eat less than a serving of fruits or vegetables daily. Add that on top of its walkability, bikeability and park scene, and its healthy restaurant options are just the cherry on top.

Next up is Honolulu, boasting a No. 2 score particularly because of its high average mental health scores and insurance coverage rates, with more than 94% of its adults and 98% of its children having health insurance, per WalletHub. There's also its access to healthy food and having the most hiking trails per capita. 

Up third is Seattle, helped by its physical activity crown. WalletHub states 86% of its adults were physically active in the past month, and many used its well-maintained parks and recreation. Seattle folks also are Googling "healthy dinner ideas" and "health food stores" more than other Americans, which the report says is a sign they are "interested in maintaining a good diet."

Other cities that made the top 10 include San Diego at No. 4, followed by Washington, D.C., Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Scottsdale and then Irvine.

Los Angeles ranked highest of the country's most populated cities, coming in at No. 11. Meanwhile, New York, New York rang in at No. 18, Chicago at 34, Houston at 92 and Phoenix at 44.

SEE MORE: These are the happiest cities in the US

As for the unhealthiest cities in the U.S., WalletHub's bottom five were Shreveport, Louisiana at No. 178; Columbus, Georgia at 179; Laredo, Texas next; Gulfport, Mississippi; then Brownsville, Texas at No. 182.

However, Laredo and Brownsville made WalletHub's list of lowest average costs of medical visits, with Laredo No. 1 on that list and Brownsville No. 3. The others centered in the Midwest: St. Louis at No. 2; Kansas City, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas, tied for No. 4. The highest cost of an average medical visit was in Juneau, Alaska, with the others in Wisconsin and Washington.

The four key indicators WalletHub considered for the report were health care, food, fitness and green space. But notably, demographics like finance and education were left out of the equation.

In a study published in AMA Journal of Ethics, researchers pointed out poverty is repeatedly associated with poor health. It states economically disadvantaged communities either by income level, education or employment status were at increased risk of mortality and some diseases. 

There are also the social determinants of health. A study published in the National Library of Medicine in 2022 stated the social circumstances we're born into and live under drive our health and how we access care. 

So while the WalletHub report is more of a health and fitness view, it's important to note other factors could change the outcome.

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