The Healthiest (and Unhealthiest) Cities in the U.S.

Is your city helping you stay healthy? Or is it throwing some roadblocks in your way? That’s what WalletHub aimed to find out. It analyzed data from 174 cities across the United States — the 150 most populated cities plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state. It assigned scores to metrics across four main categories — health care, food, fitness and green space — to rank each city. According to WalletHub, these are the 10 healthiest cities in the United States for 2019 — as well as the unhealthiest cities that form the bottom 10.

10. Irvine, California

Irvine, California’s cumulative score put it in 10th place on WalletHub’s list. It ranked second overall in the health care category — which included metrics, such as family doctors per capita, mental health counselors per capita, cost of a medical visit and adult health insurance coverage. Plus, out of all the cities, Irvine tied for third place for the lowest premature death rate, and it had the second highest percentage of physically active adults.

9. Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona, took 12th place in the health care category, 41st for food and 19th for green space. But it reigned supreme in the fitness category, coming in first out of all the cities in the analysis. That helped to bump it up to ninth overall. The fitness category included metrics, such as the share of adults who engage in any sort of exercise, fitness centers per capita, cost of fitness club memberships, intramural leagues per capita and fitness instructors per capita.

8. Honolulu, Hawaii

Skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii, and the surrounding area, including the hotels and buildings on Waikiki BeachCredit: carmengabriela/Getty Images

Honolulu did only moderately well in the health care and fitness categories, coming in 43rd and 57th respectively. But the city took eighth place in the food category and fifth in green space, giving it a total score good enough for eighth place overall. The green space category looked at metrics, including parkland acres per capita, quality of parks, hiking trails per capita and walk score. And there’s no doubt a city on an island that revolves around its outdoor beauty and activities would do well in that category.

7. Denver, Colorado

Denver’s worst showing was its 60th place finish in the health care category. (Only New York City received a lower rank for any category out of all the top 10 cities.) But it fared better in food and green space, taking 15th and 16th respectively. And it came in strong in the fitness category, landing in second place behind Scottsdale. That ranking brought the city up to seventh place overall.

6. New York, New York

New York received the worst category ranking for all the top 10 cities with its 70th place in health care. But it made up for that mark by taking 20th place in fitness, 14th in green space and second in food — putting it in sixth overall. New York was one of the cities that charged the highest average monthly cost for a fitness club membership. But it benefited from having the second most healthy restaurants per capita out of all the cities in the analysis.

5. Washington, D.C.

cherry trees along the Tidal Basin and Thomas Jefferson Memorial in springtime Washington, D.C.Credit: dszc/Getty Images

Washington, D.C., had a solid showing that was good enough for fifth place. It came in 29th for health care, 10th for food and 15th for fitness. And its best ranking was its third place finish in green space. Like New York, fitness club memberships also cost a lot in Washington, D.C. But the good news is D.C. tied for first place for the most running trails per capita and took second place for most walking trails per capita — meaning you don’t necessarily have to pay big bucks to stay fit there.

4. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, faltered a bit in the health care and fitness categories, coming in 47th and 17th respectively. But it had strong performances in food (sixth place) and green space (fourth place) — giving it a point total good enough for fourth overall. As part of the food category, Portland took first place out of all the cities for the most healthy restaurants per capita. It also had the third highest percentage of physically active adults, which bumped up its fitness rank.

3. San Diego, California

San Diego’s worst ranking was still a decent 33rd place in health care. But it dominated in the rest of the categories, coming in third for food, third for fitness and seventh for green space — bringing it to third overall. The food category scored metrics, including fruit and vegetable consumption, farmers markets per capita, healthy restaurants per capita, dietitians and nutritionists per capita and even Google search interest for “healthy eating.” So it looks like many San Diego residents care about how they fuel their bodies.

2. Seattle, Washington

Like San Diego, Seattle’s worst ranking was a respectable 25th place in health care. But it took fifth in food, fifth in fitness and second in green space, which gave it a cumulative score good enough for second place overall. Within the green space category, Seattle came in third for most running trails per capita and fourth for most walking trails per capita. So perhaps not surprisingly, it took first place for the highest percentage of physically active adults.

1. San Francisco, California

San Francisco's Golden Gate BridgeCredit: Nirian/Getty Images

San Francisco took the top spot for healthiest place to live in the United States for 2019. Its health care and fitness ranks were nothing to sneeze at — 24th and 10th respectively. And it came in first in both food and green space. Within the categories, San Francisco tied for fourth place (with Oakland and Fremont, California) for the lowest percentage of adults not eating enough fruits and vegetables per day. It also had the fourth most healthy restaurants per capita. Fitness club membership fees in San Francisco were some of the highest in the country. But it did tie with Washington, D.C., for most running trails per capita and came in first for most walking trails per capita — boosting its healthy vibe.

The bottom 10 cities

These are the 10 cities that had the lowest overall scores on WalletHub’s list.

  • 10. Montgomery, Alabama
  • 9. Detroit, Michigan
  • 8. Memphis, Tennessee
  • 7. Augusta, Georgia
  • 6. Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • 5. Huntington, West Virginia
  • 4. Shreveport, Louisiana
  • 3. Gulfport, Mississippi
  • 2. Laredo, Texas
  • 1. Brownsville, Texas

Poor showings in several metrics contributed to these cities’ low scores. In the health care category, Detroit, Augusta and Huntington tied for the highest premature death rate. And Laredo had some of the fewest mental health counselors per capita.

For the food category, Huntington, Augusta and Gulfport had the some of the highest percentages of adults not eating enough fruits and vegetables per day. Laredo had few healthy restaurants per capita. And Brownsville had some of the fewest dietitians and nutritionists per capita.

Finally, in the fitness and green space categories, Laredo was one of the cities that charged high average monthly costs for a fitness club membership. Plus, Brownsville had few walking trails per capita. So it might not come as a surprise that Laredo and Brownsville also had some of the least physically active adults out of all the cities.

Main image credit: FatCamera/Getty Images

60 comments

Mona P
Mona Pietsch3 days ago

thank you

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Jessica K
Jessica K3 days ago

Yes, outdoor space and greenery is a plus in Hawaii, as long as they keep the construction to a reasonable level. Thanks.

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hELEN h
hELEN h4 days ago

tyfs

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Leo Custer
Leo C5 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Leo C
Leo C7 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Mia B
Mia B8 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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David C
David C8 days ago

thanks, noted

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Coo R
Coo R10 days ago

interesting

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Leo Custer
Leo C11 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo C12 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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