Special Report

The 25 Healthiest Cities in America

5. Iowa City, IA
> Premature death rate:
249.2 (per 100,000 residents)
> Adult obesity rate: 23.7%
> Pct. adults without health insurance: 5.8%
> Median household income: $55,030

Employment can be important for personal health in a number of ways. Those who are employed have regular income and often health insurance through work. Only 2.7% of the Iowa City workforce is out of a job, the sixth lowest 2015 unemployment rate of any city in the country. Low unemployment likely contributes to a low uninsured rate. Only 5.8% of those ineligible for Medicare do not have health insurance, less than half the national 11.8% uninsured rate. With less joblessness, a relatively small share of area children live in poverty. Children are more susceptible to the negative health outcomes associated with malnutrition. Only 8.0% of children in Iowa city live below the poverty line, the fourth smallest share in the country.

4. Boulder, CO
> Premature death rate:
209.0 (per 100,000 residents)
> Adult obesity rate: 13.3%
> Pct. adults without health insurance: 7.3%
> Median household income: $69,407

By many measures, Boulder is one of the healthiest cities in the country. More than 90% of area adults lead physically active lives, the largest share of any U.S. metro area. Regular physical activity can help individuals maintain a healthy weight and have longer lives. Only 13.3% of adults in Boulder are obese, the lowest obesity rate of any U.S. city and well below the 27.0% national rate. In addition, there are 209 deaths before age 75 for every 100,000 area residents, the second lowest premature death rate in the country and less than half the national premature death rate.

3. Ames, IA
> Premature death rate:
214.3 (per 100,000 residents)
> Adult obesity rate: 25.6%
> Pct. adults without health insurance: 5.9%
> Median household income: $51,270

Those who are employed are more likely to have health insurance coverage, and those with insurance are more likely to receive regular medical care and preventative screening. In Ames, only 2.4% of the workforce is out of a job, tied with Fargo, North Dakota, for the lowest 2015 unemployment rate of any U.S. metropolitan area. Partially as a result, only 5.9% of the population too young for Medicare does not have insurance, a considerably smaller share than the national 11.7% uninsured rate. Life expectancy is about two years longer in Ames than it is across the country.

2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
> Premature death rate:
200.6 (per 100,000 residents)
> Adult obesity rate: 19.6%
> Pct. adults without health insurance: 7.1%
> Median household income: $92,960

Life expectancy in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area is 82.7 years, the highest in the country. Healthy behavior plays a role in the residents’ long life expectancy. More than 98% of the population has access to places for physical activity such as recreation centers and parks. As a result, area residents are more likely to lead active lifestyles than most Americans. Furthermore, only 9.1% of area adults smoke, the fourth smallest share of any U.S. city.

Residents’ health is also partially attributable to favorable economic conditions in the area. The typical metro area household earns $92,960 a year, the highest median household income of any U.S. metro area. Financial stability makes it easier to consistently afford healthy food, and only 9.8% of area residents struggle to put food on the table, less than half the national food insecurity rate.

1. Rochester, MN
> Premature death rate:
229.7 (per 100,000 residents)
> Adult obesity rate: 25.1%
> Pct. adults without health insurance: 5.4%
> Median household income: $64,210

Home to one of the Mayo Clinic’s main locations, it is perhaps no coincidence that Rochester, Minnesota is the healthiest city in the United States. Adults in Rochester report an average of only 2.4 physically unhealthy days a month, the fewest of any U.S. city. When area residents need medical attention, there is no shortage of medical professionals in the area. There are roughly 180 primary care physicians for every 100,000 area residents, more doctors per capita than in any other U.S. city.

Area residents are also less likely to smoke, more likely to be physically active, and less likely to be obese than the average American. Life expectancy in the Rochester metro area is a near-nation-leading 81.2 years.

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