Special Report

The Healthiest City in Each State

Grant Suneson

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26. Montana: Missoula
> Premature death rate: 303.2 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 22.7%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 12.2%
> Median household income: $46,550

Missoula is not just the most active metro area in Montana; its adult residents also tend to get more exercise than all but a handful of other metro areas nationwide. Just 15.1% of adults in the area got no physical activity. Some 91.8% of Missoula area residents have access to a place where they can get physical activity, which also far outpaces the rest of the state.

Better educated people have been shown to make better decisions for their health and Missoula is the most educated place in Montana. Some 78.8% of adults age 25-44 have some post secondary education, the next highest metro area in Montana is 67.9%. However, Missoula has the third-highest rate of excessive drinking in the country at 26.0%. The national average is 18.0%. This may be a factor behind why 42.7% of all driving deaths involved alcohol, compared to the national rate of 29.0%.

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27. Nebraska: Lincoln
> Premature death rate: 274.5 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 27.4%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 9.0%
> Median household income: $59,344

Lincoln, Nebraska residents have among the best health outcomes in the country. Just 11.1% of area adults reported being in either fair or poor health, well below anywhere else in Nebraska and one of the lowest rates in the country. The average resident also had just 2.8 physically unhealthy days in the last month — the fifth lowest rate of any metro area nationwide.

Lincoln area residents are more likely to take part in certain important healthy habits, and avoid some unhealthy ones, than residents in other Nebraska metro area residents. Nearly 82% of adults in the area get at least some exercise in their free time, the highest rate in the state. Lincoln also has the lowest rate of smokers in Nebraska. Some 14.3% of Lincoln residents smoke.

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28. Nevada: Reno
> Premature death rate: 357.5 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 21.5%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 13.9%
> Median household income: $58,056

Reno, Nevada is one of the thinnest metro areas in the country and by far the least likely to be obese in the state. Some 21.5% of Reno-area adults are obese, well below the 28.0% national obesity rate. The Reno area is also the most active in the state. Only 17.1% of adults in the area failed to exercise in their leisure time, well below the two other Nevada metro areas: Carson City and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise.

Reno-area adults also tend to feel better than those in other parts of Nevada. Some 15.6% of adults in the metro area reported being in suboptimal health, compared to the national rate of 16.0%. Both other Nevada metro areas are over 18%.

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29. New Hampshire: Manchester-Nashua
> Premature death rate: 310.3 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 28.1%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 8.1%
> Median household income: $76,254

The Manchester-Nashua area of New Hampshire is the only part of the state to qualify as a metropolitan area, so it had no competition for the designation of the healthiest city in New Hampshire. However, it is still one of the healthier metro areas in the U.S. The premature mortality rate of 310 premature deaths per 100,000 residents is well below the national average of 363 per 100,000.

The median household income of $76,254 makes Manchester-Nashua one of the most affluent metro areas in the country, with often makes staying healthy significantly easier. For example, wealthier people are more likely to b able to afford health insurance. Just 8.1% of residents under 65 are uninsured, compared to the national rate of 11.0%. The area also has an above average number of primary care physicians, dentists, and mental health providers per capita when compared to overall U.S. rates.

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30. New Jersey: Trenton
> Premature death rate: 296.7 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 25.2%
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 9.6%
> Median household income: $77,650

Of the four metro areas in New Jersey — Trenton, Ocean City, Atlantic City-Hammond, and Vineland-Bridgeton — Trenton is the only one with a premature mortality rate below the U.S. rate of 363 early deaths for every 100,000 residents. Trenton’s rate is actually far below that, with 297 premature deaths per 100,000 residents.

The Trenton area’s adult residents are the least likely in New Jersey to be obese. Just 25.2% of Trenton adults are obese. That could be due in part to the fact that a large share of Trenton residents have a place to exercise. Some 97.5% of Trenton residents said they had a place to work out — the second-highest rate in the country.