Special Report

The Healthiest City in Every State

16. Lawrence, Kansas
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 4.1%
> Obesity rate: 24.5%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.1%

Lawrence is not only the state’s healthiest metro area, but also one of the healthiest cities in the United States. In the metro area, 11.6% of adults reported fair or poor health, slightly below the 12.7% of Kansas residents and well below the 16% of U.S. adults who reported such poor health. About 18.1% of Lawrence residents did not participate in physical activity during their leisure time in the month preceding the survey, a significantly lower proportion than in the corresponding state and nationwide figures of 24.1% and 27%. The high rates of physical activity likely helped contribute to lower than average obesity rates across the area’s population. The obesity rate among adults in Lawrence was only 24.5%. The obesity rate did not exceed 25% in only 13 states.

17. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 5.1%
> Obesity rate: 28.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.0%

Lexington-Fayette is the healthiest city in Kentucky. However, Kentucky as a whole is not especially healthy compared to the nation, and neither is the Lexington area. Relatively poor health likely contributed to a relatively high incidence of premature death in the area, for example. An estimated 7,074 years of life were lost annually per 100,000 area residents — while this was lower than the state figure, it was higher than the national incidence of premature death. Similarly, while Lexington area residents were less likely to smoke and less likely to be obese than their statewide peers, the 19.1% smoking rate and 28.7% obesity rate were roughly inline with the respective nationwide proportions.

18. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 9.6%
> Obesity rate: 34.5%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.8%

Louisiana is one of the least healthy states in the country. As a result, despite the fact that Baton Rouge had the best physical and mental well-being scores in the state, it was still less healthy than the nation as a whole. Nearly 35% of Baton Rouge adults were obese, inline with the state’s obesity rate but significantly higher than the national obesity rate of 28.3%. Additionally, 17.7% of adults in Baton Rouge reported less than optimal health. Though this figure was slightly lower than the 19.6% of state residents who reported similarly poor health, it was higher than the national rate of 16.0%

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19. Portland-South Portland, Maine
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 4.0%
> Obesity rate: 24.1%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.6%

Maine is one of the healthiest states in the country. Consequently, the Portland-South Portland metro areas is not only the state’s healthiest metro area, but also one of the healthiest cities in the United States. Health insurance is important not just because it reduces the economic burden on the sick, but also because it encourages populations to get routine checkups. In Portland, for example, just 9.4% of the population did not have health insurance, compared to 11.2% of state residents and 14.5% of the nation’s population. Healthy habits like frequent physical activity are also important to both physical and mental health. Roughly 84.5% of Portland residents had adequate access to locations for physical activity compared to about 71.6% of people in Maine as a whole. Likely as a result, a smaller share of Portland-South Portland residents were physically inactive compared to the state share — at 17.5% versus 21.4%, respectively. Likely for these reasons, just 10.7% of the city’s population reported fair or poor health versus 16% of Americans.

20. California-Lexington Park, Maryland
> Pct. without health insurance:
> Pct. food insecure: 2.6%
> Obesity rate: 26.7%
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.4%

California-Lexington Park is the healthiest metro area in Maryland. Slightly less than 11% of adults reported fair or poor health, a smaller share than the 12.6% of statewide adults. This may be attributable to the smaller share of California-Lexington Park residents who reported unhealthy habits. Only 12.5% of residents smoked and 14.0% were heavy drinkers, while the percentages of Maryland residents who identified as smokers and who reported drinking at risky levels each exceeded 15%.

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