The 15 Healthiest and 15 Unhealthiest Cities in America from The 15 Healthiest and 15 Unhealthiest Cities in America

The 15 Healthiest and 15 Unhealthiest Cities in America

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The 15 Healthiest and 15 Unhealthiest Cities in America

A whopping 34.9 percent – or 78.6 million – of American adults are obese, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. While obesity is a trend that needs to be reversed, old habits die hard — and it takes a lot more than studies, awareness campaigns and enthusiasm to achieve a healthy weight. It’s hard to break away from tradition when it makes everything more delicious.

In order to determine where people in America are most content with their lives, WalletHub compared more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities across 28 key indicators of happiness. The data set ranges from depression rate to income-growth rate to average leisure time spent per day.


1. San Francisco, CA

Even though San Francisco has the third highest average monthly cost of fitness-club membership, people are finding time to exercise. Locals probably bike a lot; the city is among the most bikeable in the country.  But that’s not all – San Francisco has the fifth highest number of healthy restaurants per capita and very few people report not eating fruits and vegetables every day.


2. Seattle, WA

People stay healthy in Seattle, which has the highest number of physically active adults, because it has a lot of walking and running trails, and many healthy places to eat.


3. Portland, OR

Portland has the highest number of healthy restaurants per capita, according to the data. The city is third in the “highest percentage of physically active adults” category.


4. San Diego, CA

The six cities with the lowest premature death rate are all in California. Considering that San Diego is among the absolute best surf towns in the world, the fact that people like to stay active is not surprising.


5. Washington, D.C.

The capital is the city with the second most walking trails per capita. It ranked 3rd in the “green space” category, which includes parkland per capita as well as the quality of the parks.


6. Burlington, VT

Burlington has the lowest percentage of adults not eating enough fruits and vegetables per day. Diet, not exercise, nutritionist say, is about 80 percent of why people are healthy and in shape or not.


7. Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale is the overall winner in the “Fitness” category. It includes share of adults who engage in any physical activity, fitness clubs per capita, and recreational leagues per capita.


8. Honolulu, HI

Locals eat well in Hawaii. Honolulu ranked third overall in the “food” category, which takes into consideration farmer’s markets, gourmet specialty-foods stores, and healthy restaurants per capita, as well as the number of nutritionists. 


9. Irvine, CA

People in Irvine love to move. The city has the second highest percentage of physically active adults. Irvine just misses the No.1 ranking for the least stressed city in the U.S. The city has a low divorce and crime rate, and the majority of the people living there have high credit scores.


10. Denver, CO

Denver ranks high when it comes to fitness. People like to stay active, and the city offers many opportunities – even when the weather is not perfect. The Apex Center has two ice rinks, a gigantic indoor aquatic play area, climbing wall, indoor track, and themed indoor playground.


11. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City keeps their population fit by providing its people with playgrounds, and recreational activities. Alta Ski Area is the second oldest ski resort in the country, and one of the most popular destinations for winter sports and summer hikes. Salt Lake City has many parks available to keep their residents fit throughout the year.


12. New York, NY

What drives New York’s ranking so high is it being No. 2 in the “Food” category, which takes into account the share of residents who say they eat healthy, the share of locals who are obese, as well as how limited access is to healthy foods.


13. Huntington Beach, CA

Huntington Beach has the fifth highest percentage of physically active adults. The city is tied in second place for having the lowest premature-death rates among all 180 large cities included in the study.


14. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis ranked 8th overall in the “Health Care” category, which includes mental health counselors, family doctors, and dentists per capita. The cost of medical and dental visits, as well as the share of people who went to see a health professional, were also compared. 


15. Fremont, CA

Fremont has the lowest separation and divorce rate, 16.52 percent, which is 2.9 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 47.65 percent. That means little stress, which leads to healthier lifestyle.


15. Chattanooga, TN

This is one of the most underrated cities in the U.S., but, unfortunately, not among the one where locals have healthy habits. Its lowest score is in the food category.

14. Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge has the third highest percentage of people who report not eating enough fruits or vegetables per day. The city is also among the most stressed in the country. Locals are stressed mostly over health and safety concerns.


13. North Las Vegas, NV

The region’s “Health Care” and “Fitness” rank were very low – 171 and 168, respectively, out of 180. The former category includes adult and youth health insurance coverage as well as the share of people who checked their cholesterol in the last five years.


12. Mobile, AL

Mobile has the fewest number of dietitians and nutritionists per capita. One the bright side, Mobile is cheap and it offers stunning waterfront access and beachfront homes. It was once called the Paris of the South.


11. Huntington, WV

In 2008, the CDC released a report that named Huntington among the unhealthiest cities in America. It highlighted concerning health issues, including the fact that nearly half of the adult population was obese. Heart disease and diabetes were also wide-spread issues, likely due to the culture.


10. Memphis, TN

Memphis ranked low in all of the four major categories – food, fitness, health care and green space. The last one includes information on biking paths, walking and running trails, physical activity access and as well as recreation access.


9. Corpus Christi, TX

Corpus Christi is among the cities with the fewest (second to last, in fact) dietitians and nutritionist per capita.

8. Jackson, MS

Jackson has the fourth lowest percentage of physically active adults and the second highest percentage of adults who don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables per day.


7. Detroit, MI

People in Detroit not only like to make cars, they love to drive them all the time, too. Few residents ride a bike or use public transportation to get to work. As much as 34, 33.1 and 28.3 percent in the Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn Metro Division are overweight, obese and don’t exercise at all, respectively, according to government data.


6. Fort Smith, AR

Of all four major categories, Fort Smith ranked the lowest when it came to green space – 171 out of 180. (The city did not fare much better in the other three.)


5. Gulfport, MS

Gulfport is the worst in America at keeping New Year's resolutions, which are almost always about getting healthier. Locals were best at keeping the "School and Work" resolutions, but scored painfully low on most of the rest. Gulfport is among cities with the highest percentage of adults not exercising.


4. Shreveport, LA

It’s not just being inactive; it’s also in the diet. Shreveport-Bossier City has the second highest percentage of adults with high blood pressure, the third highest percentage of adults with high cholesterol, and the third highest number of obese adults. 


3. Augusta, GA

Augusta has the second highest premature death rates of all 180 cities studied. It also has few healthy restaurants per capita, compared to the rest – the fifth lowest number.

Barna Tanko/

2. Laredo, TX

Laredo has the lowest number of physically active adults and the second lowest number of eateries where healthy food is served. Laredo has the lowest number of suicides per 100,000 residents - 5.26, which is 5.5 times lower than in Missoula in Montana, the city with the highest at 29.18.

Flickr/Distrito Medico Monterrey/CC BY 4.0

1. Brownsville, TX

Brownsville is not “the worst” in any category but it’s ranking pretty close to the lowest contributes to the overall rank as the least healthy city in America.