Is Your City Healthy?

Do you know if your city is healthy? In honor of National Nutrition Month, WalletHub ranked 100 of the most populous metropolitan cities in the United States, taking into consideration factors such as the percent of obese adults and high school students, physical inactivity, cholesterol prevalence and more. Since we don’t live in the hiker’s utopia that is Boulder, Colorado, or in pristine Salem, Utah, we didn’t expect Chicago’s suburbs to clock in at first place. We were curious, though, to see where we rank. After all, we have Lake Michigan (and all of the physical activity that surrounds it), tons of summertime Farmers Markets, plus a huge local Lifeway Kefir following.

The good news: Chicago claimed the 30th spot, which means we aren’t the least healthy place to live.

The bad news: We’re also far from the healthiest.


Wallethub is hardly the first group to rank cities by health. CNN has done it, branching out globally, and their “healthiest” list of inspiring. Here’s a few highlights that are cool enough to have us consider a move:

Copenhagen Only two percent of employees here work more than 40 hours a week, and free community programs include laughing yoga and basket weaving. With 250 miles of bike paths, almost half of Copenhagen’s residents cycle to work or school. When it comes to friendship, a known factor in improving physical and mental health, this place is tops: 96 percent of residents feel that they can count on someone if they are in need. The Golden Girls would be proud.

Okinawa This place boasts the largest population of centenarians (people who live to be older than 100) in the world; the average woman lives to reach age 86 and men, 78. Unlike the US, heart disease and cancer are not the norm. People eat fish for breakfast, they don’t stress, and they often live in the same home as their extended family, which improves family bonds and, therefore, health.

Napa, California It’s known for its wine, but apparently Napa has a whole lot more going for it than a few fruity whites and smooth reds. People eat locally, bike everywhere, arts appreciation is huge and girl empowerment is high on the list of community endeavors.

New York Shocked? So were we – at first. But recent clampdowns on everything from cigarettes and soda to high calorie fast food has New Yorkers breathing easier and eating more healthfully. Between 2002, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in nearly all bars and restaurants, and 2012, smoking declined by 28 percent among adults and 50 percent among high school students (It helped that in 2011, smoking was also banned in parks, on beaches and pedestrian plazas). Most NYC Food Service Establishments are required to post calorie information on menus and menu boards, which means you can’t buy a 700-calorie scone at a bakery without fully realizing it…and possibly putting it back and grabbing a banana instead.



So what does it all mean? What do all of these cities have in common? Looks like a balance of healthy eating, exercise, low-stress levels and an emphasis on community.

To read the full Wallethub report, visit