Special Report

The Healthiest City in Each State

Grant Suneson

Source: chensiyuan / Wikimedia Commons

21. Massachusetts: Boston-Cambridge-Newton
> Premature death rate: 265.1 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 23.6%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 3.5%
> Median household income: $82,380

Residents of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area likely have a much easier time accessing medical care than anywhere else in Massachusetts. There are 111 primary care physicians and 109 dentists for every 100,000 area residents. Both rates are the highest in the state and among the highest in the country. It may also be easier for area residents to receive medical care because almost everyone in the Boston area has health insurance.

Just 3.5% of people in the Boston area are uninsured. While that is less than a third of the nationwide uninsured rate of 11.0%, all metro areas in Massachusetts for which there are data have an uninsured rate at or below 3.5%. This abundance of medical care may contribute to positive health outcomes. The area had just 265 premature deaths for every 100,000 residents, the lowest in the state and well below the national rate of 363 per 100,000.

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22. Michigan: Ann Arbor
> Premature death rate: 254.3 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 23.9%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 5.7%
> Median household income: $65,601

Of the 14 metropolitan areas in Michigan, Ann Arbor is the only one in which the adult obesity rate is below the national average of 28.0%. Some 23.9% of Ann Arbor adults are obese, one of the country’s lowest rates. The Michigan metro area with the next lowest obesity rate is the Grand Rapids area, which is a full six percentage points higher.

Ann Arbor is also the most active part of Michigan as just 15.8% of adults got no exercise in their leisure time. Nowhere else in the state had a rate below 20%. The smoking rate in Ann Arbor of 12.8% also falls well below anywhere else in the state.

However, the area is not without its unhealthy behaviors. The excessive drinking rate in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area is 24.6%. That rate is the highest in the state and far beyond the 18.0% national excessive drinking rate.

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23. Minnesota: Rochester
> Premature death rate: 227.1 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 27.3%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 5.6%
> Median household income: $70,078

The title of healthiest city in Minnesota was hotly contested, as each of Minnesota’s metropolitan areas were among the healthiest in the nation. The Rochester, Minnesota metro area is the healthiest because it had, overall, the best health outcomes of any place in the United States. The average resident had just 2.7 physically unhealthy days in the last month, the lowest in the entire country.

The premature mortality rate in the Rochester area is 227 per 100,000 residents and just 11.0% of residents reported that they were in either fair or poor health. Both outcomes are among the top 10 in the nation. The area also had just 5.8% of births with low birth weights and 13.8% of adults smoke. Both measures were also among the nation’s best.

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24. Mississippi: Hattiesburg
> Premature death rate: 469.8 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 34.4%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 15.5%
> Median household income: $46,765

Though the Hattiesburg metro area is the healthiest place in Mississippi, it is one of the least healthy places in the U.S. overall. The only other two metro areas in the state, Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula and Jackson, struggled with similar poor health indicators and fell just below Hattiesburg on the overall ranking of the healthiest areas, though all were near the bottom.

Some 29.9% of Hattiesburg area residents reported no leisure physical activity. That rate is well above the national average of 23.0%, but lower than the other metro areas in Mississippi. Hattiesburg area residents are relatively safe, as there are just 199 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, well below the national violent crime rate of 386 per 100,000 residents.

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25. Missouri: Columbia
> Premature death rate: 284.1 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 28.3%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 8.0%
> Median household income: $52,752

Younger Columbia, Missouri-area residents are more likely to have health insurance than those in any other major metropolitan area in the state. Just 8.0% of people below 65 in the area have no health insurance. The area also allows for greater access to primary care physicians than any other part of Missouri. There are 111 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents. The next highest rate in the state is 80 per 100,000.

Columbia is the most active metro area in Missouri. Just 20.3% of Columbia adults reported no leisure time physical activity, making it the only place in Missouri with an inactivity rate below the 23.0% national average. Perhaps as a result of this exercise habit, Columbia is also the least obese place in Missouri. Some 28.3% of Columbia adults are obese. That is a slightly higher rate than the U.S. obesity rate of 28.0%, but nowhere else in the state fell below a 30% obesity rate.