Special Report

The Healthiest City in Each State

Grant Suneson

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6. Colorado: Boulder
> Premature death rate: 212.0 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 13.8%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 7.4%
> Median household income: $74,615

The adult residents of Boulder, Colorado feel better than those of any other metro area nationwide. Just 9.4% of adults in the Boulder area report being in suboptimal health — making it the only place in which fewer than 10.0% of adults feel this way. The area’s premature death rate of 212 residents per 100,000 is the second-lowest in the U.S. and by far the lowest in Colorado.

The Boulder area is one of the most active and fit places in the country. The metro area has a 13.8% obesity rate, the second-lowest nationwide, and less than half of the 28.0% nationwide obesity rate. Just 10.0% of adults in the Boulder area reported getting no physical activity in their free time, the lowest rate in the nation.

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7. Connecticut: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk
> Premature death rate: 219.1 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 21.4%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 9.9%
> Median household income: $90,123

The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area of Connecticut is one of the healthiest areas in the entire country due to a number of key health indicators. The metro area’s premature death rate of 219 per 100,000 residents is one of the lowest in the country and well below any other metro area in the state. Some 11.1% of Bridgeport area adults reported being in suboptimal health; each other metro area in the state had a rate at least one full percentage point higher.

Bridgeport area adults consistently display healthy habits. Very few adults in the area, just 10.4%, reported smoking. And just 18.9% reported getting no exercise during their leisure time. Both rates are the lowest in Connecticut. Adults in the metro area may be more likely to exercise because of heightened accessibility in the area. Some 96.0% of Bridgeport area residents said they had access to a place where they could work out — one of the highest rates nationwide.

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8. Delaware: Dover
> Premature death rate: 399.0 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 33.6%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 7.6%
> Median household income: $54,140

Dover is the only place in Delaware large enough to qualify as a metropolitan statistical area, so it is the healthiest by default. However, Dover’s health indicators and outcomes do not compare favorably to most other metro areas in the U.S. More than one in three adults in the Dover area are obese, higher of the U.S. obesity rate as a whole. Dover area adults are also less likely to exercise than those in almost all other places. Less than 70% of adults in the Dover area said they engage in physical activity in their leisure time, one of the worst rates nationwide.

It is not just adults that struggle with their health in Dover. Infants are born with low birth weights more frequently — some 8.9% — in the Dover area than in most other places in the country. Infants born with low birth weights are more likely to face future medical challenges, like diabetes, heart disease, and developmental disabilities.

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9. Florida: Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island
> Premature death rate: 216.6 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 20.3%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 18.2%
> Median household income: $61,228

The Naples, Florida metro area has a much lower premature death rate than anywhere else in the state. Some 217 for every 100,000 of its residents die prematurely. The next closest rate in Florida is the Miami area with 279 per 100,000. Just 20.3% of adults in the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island area are obese, the lowest rate in the state.

The relative health of the Naples metro area may be linked to its relative affluence. Of the 22 metropolitan statistical areas in Florida, just two have a median household income above the U.S. median of $57,617. Naples is the only area of Florida with a median household income over $60,000. This wealth likely affords residents the opportunity to take better care of themselves through improved diets and exercise opportunities.

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10. Georgia: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell
> Premature death rate: 326.5 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 28.6%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 15.2%
> Median household income: $62,613

The Atlanta area is the only place in Georgia in which the average adult feels healthier than the average American adult. Some 15.7% of adults in Atlanta reported that they were in suboptimal health — the only part of Georgia in which the rate is below the U.S. rate of 16.0%. Residents also said they experienced an average of 3.5 mentally unhealthy days and 3.5 physically unhealthy days in the previous month. No other metro area in Georgia had either measure that was below the U.S. average of 3.8 and 3.7, respectively.

Adult residents of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area are also more likely to engage in certain healthy behaviors than adults in any other Georgia metropolitan statistical area. Some 15.7% of Atlanta area residents smoke, the only rate for any Georgia metropolitan area that falls below the U.S. average of 17.0%. Some 78.0% of adults said they got some exercise during their leisure time, the highest rate of any metro area in Georgia.