Special Report

25 Healthiest Cities in America

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15. Iowa City, IA
> Premature death rate: 250.9 (per 100,000)
> Adult obesity rate: 24.5%
> Pct. under 65 without health insurance: 6.8%
> Median household income: $57,777

A high food insecurity rate in an area suggests that relatively many residents are likely low income and live far away from supermarkets, where fresh produce and other healthy foods are available. While the median annual household income in Iowa City of $57,777 just brushes above the national median of $57,617, only 2.9% of residents are food insecure, one of the lowest rates in the country.

Iowa City residents tend to lead healthier lifestyles than the average American. Adults in this metro area are less likely to be obese and smoke. Additionally, area adults report fewer mentally and physically unhealthy days per month at 3.3 and 2.8, respectively — some of the lowest figures nationwide. Perhaps all of these factors contribute to the metropolitan area’s low premature death rate. Iowa City residents die before the age of 75 at a rate of 250 for every 100,000 people. In contrast, the national rate is 363 premature deaths per every 100,000 people.

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14. Madison, WI
> Premature death rate: 244.7 (per 100,000)
> Adult obesity rate: 26.0%
> Pct. under 65 without health insurance: 5.5%
> Median household income: $68,497

Those with health insurance are far more likely to receive necessary medical and preventative care than those without. Nearly 95% of all residents in Madison, Wisconsin have health insurance, among the highest coverage rates nationwide. In addition to widespread medical coverage, area residents are more likely to be physically active in their free time than most Americans. This figure could be influenced by the prevalence of exercise facilities and parks in the area. Some 90% of the population has access to either a park or gym.

Regardless, only 17.1% of adults lead sedentary lifestyles, less than the 23% of Americans who are physically inactive nationwide. Both of these factors likely help explain the low premature death rate in Madison. Residents die prematurely at a rate of 244 per 100,000 people, one of the lowest premature death rates in the nation.

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13. St. Cloud, MN
> Premature death rate: 248.5 (per 100,000)
> Adult obesity rate: 28.1%
> Pct. under 65 without health insurance: 5.3%
> Median household income: $56,620

St. Cloud, Minnesota has one of the lowest death rates from intoxicated drivers. Some 20% of motor vehicle deaths in this metropolitan area are tied to alcohol, much lower than the national rate of 29.0%. This lower rate may positively impact the premature death rate in St. Cloud. Area residents are less likely to die before age 75 than residents in most other metropolitan areas in the country.

Area residents also lead relatively healthy lifestyles. Some 79% of adults are physically active, above the national average of 77%, despite only 76% of the population having access to a park or recreational facility — one of the lower shares nationally.

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12. Manhattan, KS
> Premature death rate: 251.3 (per 100,000)
> Adult obesity rate: 25.7%
> Pct. under 65 without health insurance: N/A
> Median household income: $52,720

When it comes to purchasing healthful foods, residents in Manhattan, Kansas, are at a noticeable disadvantage. Nearly one in five residents are food insecure, the seventh highest rate in the nation. Despite these disadvantages to leading a healthy lifestyle, residents in this Kansas metropolitan area some of the healthiest in the country. Area adults are more likely to exercise regularly, less likely to obese, and less likely to smoke. They also report on average just 3.3 days of poor mental health and 3.1 days of poor physical health each month, compared to the national averages of 3.8 days of poor mental health and 3.7 days poor physical health.

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11. State College, PA
> Premature death rate: 216.5 (per 100,000)
> Adult obesity rate: 29.3%
> Pct. under 65 without health insurance: 6.6%
> Median household income: $60,266

Residents in State College are much more likely to live past 75 than residents in other metropolitan areas in the United States. Residents die prematurely at a rate of 216 deaths per 100,000 people, the third lowest premature death rate in the country. Perhaps the lower prevalence of premature deaths in State College is partially the result of the area’s widespread health care coverage. People who are covered by health insurance are much more likely to receive necessary and preventative medical care than those without it. Over 93% of area residents below age 65 have health insurance, exceeding the national coverage rate of just 89%.