During the industrial revolution, cities became hotbeds of disease and other major health risks as high population density, lack of proper sanitation, and pollution contributed to poor health in urban centers. While the trend of urbanization has continued since, health outcomes among city dwellers have steadily improved. Today, cities in the developed world are some of the healthiest places to live.
Many recent studies have highlighted the unique health benefits of living in urban environments. Residents of dense, walkable neighborhoods tend to exercise more and have a lower body mass index. Additionally, cities in the developed world tend to have more access to fresh, healthy foods; they are safer; and have greater access to health care.
City dwellers also face particular health risks, such as air pollution, exposure to disease, and health problems associated with overcrowding. Metropolitan areas that leverage their unique health advantages and mitigate against urban health risks are like to have some of the lowest infant mortality, longest life expectancy, and least exposure to air pollution in the world.
To determine the healthiest cities in the world, 24/7 Wall St. compiled an index of three health outcomes and factors — infant mortality, life expectancy, and exposure to air pollution — with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Statistics Canada, the Statistics Bureau of Japan, the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Metropolitan Areas Database.