Everyone wants to know how their home city measures up health-wise to the rest of the country, or whether a proposed move will be healthy for themselves and their family. Unfortunately, “healthy” is such a subjective term that it is difficult to give an objective listing of which ones are best. This is one reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “A news outlet recently conducted an analysis of CDC′s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2006 data, released August 2008. The outlet ranked some cities healthiest vs. unhealthiest, but CDC does not rank cities.” Instead, it’s important to look at the various health risks and decide which ones apply to you. With information compiled from a number of other sources using popular health indicators, here are the contenders for the top five healthiest cities in the United States.
1. Burlington, Vt. Based on aggregate data from the CDC’s research, Burlington, Vt., has been named the healthiest city in America by a number of popular media outlets. Reuters states that the distinction holds especially true for men, who are healthier in this city than any other studied. The reasons cited include plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities, an average age in the mid-30s and low poverty rates within the small lakeside city.
2. Portland, Oregon. The city of Portland, Oregon earns its health distinction for its numerous bike paths, readily available health food stores and low obesity rates. Portland is also home to one of the best farmer’s markets in the country, and Healthy Portland actively develops and promotes health initiatives to residents in order to continue raising the health standard.
3. Boulder, Colo. According to a well-being index created by Gallup and Healthways, the people of Boulder are the healthiest of all metro areas in the country. This index measures factors such as overall work satisfaction, access to basic needs, emotional health and adherence to an overall healthy lifestyle.
4. Provo, Utah. Smoking is a confirmed serious health hazard, and the city of Provo, Utah, boasts a whopping 95 percent non-smoking population, as well as the lowest number of fast food restaurants for its population, according to the CDC’s information. Utah also ranks among the least obese states in the United States.
5. San Francisco, Calif. San Francisco finds its place on the chart for excelling in women’s health and the availability of healthcare to uninsured individuals (also via the CDC). Depending on the study, sources indicate that the city of San Jose, Calif., boasts a similarly healthy population, and both cities are known for overall healthy and active lifestyles.