Thursday, February 16, 2017 by Amy Goodrich
Location can make a huge difference when it comes to your overall health. A recent study from Wallet Hub ranked the healthiest cities of the United States, with Detroit coming in dead last. Researchers looked at how America’s 150 most populated cities compared on health care, food, fitness, and access to recreational green spaces like hiking trails and parks.
The study based its rankings on 34 key measures of good health, including the cost of a doctor’s visit, quality of public hospitals, the number of fitness clubs per capita, the share of obese residents, and how many fruits and vegetables people consume.
The researchers used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among other public resources.
Ranking very low in health care, food, and fitness, WalletHub named Detroit the worst city of them all, followed by Brownsville (Texas), Memphis (Tennessee), Laredo (Texas), and Shreveport (Louisiana). San Francisco ranked as the healthiest city in the United states, followed by Salt Lake City (Utah), Scottsdale (Arizona), Seattle (Washington), and Portland (Oregon).
According to Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director of the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion, the results didn’t come as a big surprise. He blamed Detroit’s low scores on the lack of doctors’ offices, healthy food stores, transportation, and safe places to exercise.
“When you think about the causes of poor health, it has to do with the kind of environment in which people work, live, and play,” Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told The Detroit News. “The numbers you see around access to health care, around the quality of available food options, the ability to achieve regular exercise — those are part and parcel of the particular geography of Detroit. There’s a lot of work to be done here,” he added.
Detroit, however, is not the only big city who needs to regroup and aim for better scores next year. WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez noted that health plays a crucial role in the decision people and companies make when they plan to relocate or find a new job. She added that the annual WalletHub survey can help them make up their mind.
Some places focus on expanding the access to fresh organic, nutritious foods, while others try to keep the medical cost low or protect green areas to encourage physical activity. Depending on what you regard to be vital to your health, you may want to reconsider a relocation or job offer.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was named the city with the highest medical costs. Cities across California had the lowest premature death rates in the U.S., with Baltimore, Maryland taking the top spot. When it came to food, west coast cities in California, Oregon, and Washington showed the lowest percentage of adults eating less than one serving of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. Little Rock, Arkansas, took the highest spot. As reported by the Daily Mail Online, the obesity rate in Arkansas is currently the sixth highest in America.
Strangely enough, the study authors found that the people in the unhealthiest cities had access to cheaper gym memberships. San Francisco came out as the healthiest city while Seattle counted the most physically active adults. If you love walking or running, then Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee, Florida, are the places to be. El Paso, Texas, came last with 54 times less running and walking trails. (RELATED: Learn more about fitness tips and tricks at WomensFitnessFocus.com and MensFitnessFocus.com.)
More detailed information on the report’s scores can be found here.