Healthcare Economy

America's Most (and Least) Healthy Cities

America’s Least Healthy Cities

10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
> Physical Health Index: 72.2
> Obesity rate: 35.1% (5th highest)
> Blood pressure: 37.8% (5th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.1% (134th lowest)

Unhealthy behaviors may help explain the poor physical health of Little Rock area’s residents. Just 56.4% of respondents told Gallup they ate healthy all day the previous 24 hours, the worst rate nationwide. Additionally, more than one-quarter of survey respondents were smokers, compared with less than 20% of Americans nationwide. Although Little Rock residents were more likely than most Americans to exercise, more than 35% were classified as clinically obese in 2013, among the largest proportions in the country. A high obesity rate may have contributed to other health issues inflicting area residents. More than 37% of survey respondents had been told by a medical practitioner that they had high blood pressure, worse than all but four other metro areas.

9. Spartanburg, S.C.
> Physical Health Index: 71.9
> Obesity rate: 30.0% (34th highest)
> Blood pressure: 36.3% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 20.0% (70th highest)

More than 30% of Spartanburg residents surveyed told Gallup they were unable to participate in age appropriate activities due to their health. This was one of the highest rates in the nation and one of a number of physical health problems that plagued residents. Even worse, 36.3% of respondents said they had high blood pressure, 13.7% said they had been diagnosed with diabetes and nearly 6% said they had previously suffered a heart attack — all among the worst rates in the nation. One contributing factor may be people’s unhealthy behaviors. Less than 48% of respondents exercised regularly, among the lowest rates in the nation. Also, 27.5% of people stated they smoked, one of the highest rates in America.

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8. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.
> Physical Health Index: 71.7
> Obesity rate: 29.7% (40th highest)
> Blood pressure: 35.7% (14th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (164th lowest)

Less than 80% of respondents living in the Chattanooga metro area said they had enough energy to accomplish what they needed to the day before, worse than all but two other metro areas. Also, nearly 31% of respondents had health problems that hindered their ability to participate in age appropriate activities. Low incomes in the region may be contributing to the poor physical health of residents — median household income was just $43,475 in 2012, considerably lower than the national median of $51,371 that year. Low incomes may have limited Chattanooga-area residents’ ability to access basic needs, such as health care, which in turn may have also contributed to poor physical health. While the percentage of area residents covered by health insurance was inline with the national rate, just three-quarters of respondents said they had enough money for health care and medicine, among the lowest rates nationwide.

7. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.
> Physical Health Index: 71.6
> Obesity rate: 33.8% (8th highest)
> Blood pressure: 29.3% (92nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.3% (93rd highest)

Clarksville-area residents were among the nation’s most likely to be obese, with 33.8% considered obese based on their height and weight. Residents were also exceptionally likely to report recurring pains, with more than 37% stating they suffered from neck or back pain and more than 35% stating they suffered from leg or knee pain, both among the highest rates in the country. Residents’ poor health was not just limited to physical ailments. People in the Clarksville area were more likely than Americans in most metro areas to have felt angry and among the least likely to have felt happy within the previous day. Both measures are important components of emotional health, for which Clarksville was among the worst rated metro areas in the nation.

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6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.
> Physical Health Index: 71.4
> Obesity rate: 29.8% (38th highest)
> Blood pressure: 35.4% (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 22.6% (32nd highest)

Like most metro areas with poor physical health scores, health issues prevented many Fort Smith residents from participating in age-appropriate activities. Nearly 35% of survey respondents said health problems prevented them from performing activities people their age normally perform, worst among all areas surveyed. Chronic pain was likely an obstacle to usual activities for many residents. Nearly 40% of respondents reported recurring neck or back pains, second worst nationwide. In addition to poor health, residents suffered from poor economic conditions. Median household income was just $36,061 in 2012, among the lowest in the nation. Further, more than 22% were living in poverty that year, also among the worst rates in the United States.

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