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article imageHealthiest and unhealthiest cities in the U.S. revealed

By Tim Sandle     Feb 24, 2019 in Health
Health is tied to demographics and location and the U.S. is a case in point, with ‘health’ mirroring the cost of healthcare and a range of other factors. To survey these variances, personal-finance website WalletHub has run a survey.
WalletHub notes how healthcare costs continue to rise (based on PwC findings) and, across the U.S., life expectancy has fallen for the third consecutive year (as reported by The Washington Post). While this is an interesting finding as a U.S.-wide view, the differences across cities paints a very varied picture.
These nuances are drawn out in WalletHub’s report on 2019’s Healthiest & Unhealthiest Cities in America. For the research, WalletHub examined data pertaining to 170 of the largest U.S. cities, using 42 important metrics.
The metrics used included the typical cost of a medical visit to the levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, plus factors like the number of operating fitness clubs per capita. In the U.S. most healthcare is paid for, in contrast to countries like the U.K. where most healthcare is provided for free.
These data revealed the top-ten healthiest cities to be, in descending order:
1. San Francisco, CA
2. Seattle, WA
3. San Diego, CA
4. Portland, OR
5. Washington, DC
6. New York, NY
7. Denver, CO
8. Honolulu, HI
9. Scottsdale, AZ
10. Irvine, CA
Meaning that San Francisco, California wins the accolade as the healthiest city in the U.S.
In contrast, the top-ten unhealthiest cities were:
Montgomery, AL
Detroit, MI
Memphis, TN
Augusta, GA
Fort Smith, AR
Huntington, WV
Shreveport, LA
Gulfport, MS
Laredo, TX
Brownsville, TX
Meaning that Brownsville in Texas stands as the unhealthiest city in the U.S., based on the assembled metrics.
Beyond these headline rankings there were some other findings of interest. Overland Park, which is located in Kansas, has the lowest level of physically unhealthy adults, at just over 7 percent. This is almost three times lower than Detroit, which has the highest level at almost 20 percent.
In terms of medical visits, Laredo, Texas, records the lowest cost per doctor’s visit at $58.33. This stands in contrast to Boston, where the typical visit to a general medical practitioner is a whopping $190.52. There are similar disparities when it comes to gym membership costs. In Amarillo, Texas, the typical monthly fee is $13.67; whereas in the more prosperous San Francisco the typical monthly cost is $84.36.
With healthy eating, Portland, Maine records the lowest proportion of adults eating fruit less than once per day, at almost 30 percent. This is almost twice as low as Gulfport, Mississippi, which stands at around 52 percent.
These ranges across the metrics and different outcomes for geographically distant cities show how health is related to geography and income levels. According to Professor Katherine Baicker, Harvard School of Public Health: “There is an increasing appreciation for the fact that many of our health outcomes are determined long before we enter the health care system: social determinants and health behaviors are major drivers of chronic illness.”
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