What makes some cities healthier places to live than others? The World Health Organization defines a healthy city as one that continually creates and improves its physical and social environments, and expands the resources that allow people to support each other in all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.
Healthy city governments and their residents put health high on their social agenda, and build a movement at the local level. Certainly healthcare and basic needs are important factors, but access to a variety of experiences and resources, as well as healthy food and exercise also matters, according to WHO. Factors that contribute to the overall mental and physical health of a community also include air and noise pollution, natural spaces, temperatures, and physical activity.
To identify the overall healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the U.S., WalletHub used data from a variety of sources to compare 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across four key dimensions:
1. Healthcare, which ranges from premature death rate to number of doctors and dentists, costs and COVID-19 rates
2. Food, which includes fruit and vegetable consumption, number of farmers markets, obesity rates and healthy restaurants,
3. Fitness, which ranges from the share of adults who engage in physical activity to cost and availability of fitness centers, and
4. Green space, which includes number and quality of parks, hiking, running and walking trails, a city’s bike and walk score and green transportation.
Based on WalletHub’s research, here are the 15 healthiest and 15 unhealthiest cities in America: