Least Healthy City in Every State

Print Email

Source: Curtis Palmer from Vestavia Hills (Birmingham), Alabama, USA / Wikimedia Commons

1. Gadsden, Alabama
> Premature death rate: 556.3 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 36.8%
> Adult smoking rate: 23.1%
> Median household income: $41,152

Gadsden, Alabama is the least healthy metro area in one of the least healthy states. While nationwide 336 in every 100,000 Americans die before age 75, in Alabama, the premature death rate is 469 deaths per 100,000 residents, the third most of any state. In Gadsden, the premature death rate is even higher, at 556 in every 100,000 residents, the second highest premature death rate in Alabama and the third highest in the nation.

A number of environmental and socioeconomic factors may contribute to the negative health outcomes in Gadsden. Just 43.6% of metro area adults have access to opportunities for physical activity, the smallest share of any city in Alabama, and 34.2% do not exercise — the largest share. The typical household earns just $41,152 a year, one of the lowest median household incomes of any city nationwide.

Source: JonnyNoTrees / Getty Images

2. Anchorage, Alaska
> Premature death rate: 347.7 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 28.6%
> Adult smoking rate: 15.8%
> Median household income: $82,203

Anchorage has the worst health outcomes of the two metro areas in Alaska. The city’s premature death rate of 348 per 100,000 residents is greater than the rate in the Fairbanks metro area of 330 premature deaths per 100,000 residents, yet less than the national rate of 336 premature deaths per 100,000 Americans.

Violent crime can induce physical and mental stress, discourage physical activity, and contribute to worse health outcomes overall. In 2016, there were 1,115 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Anchorage, far more than the violent crime rate of 669 per 100,000 in Fairbanks and the second most of any U.S. metro area.

Source: Fiftythreenorth / Getty Images

3. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona
> Premature death rate: 503.1 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 30.4%
> Adult smoking rate: 20.0%
> Median household income: $42,423

While Phoenix, Prescott, and Tucson, Arizona are some of the healthier metro areas nationwide, the state is also home to one of the least healthy cities in the country. In the Lake Havasu City-Kingman metro area, 503 in every 100,000 residents die before age 75, the highest premature death rate in Arizona and the ninth highest of any U.S. city.

Lake Havasu City residents also report the worst health behaviors in Arizona by far. Some 20.0% of adult residents smoke, far more than the 14.7% state and 17.0% national smoking rates. While just 20.2% of adults throughout Arizona do not exercise — one of the smaller shares of any state — in Lake Havasu City some 30.1% of adults report no leisure-time physical activity, one of the largest shares of any U.S. metro area.

Source: Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

4. Pine Bluff, Arkansas
> Premature death rate: 537.8 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 40.5%
> Adult smoking rate: 22.1%
> Median household income: $37,076

In Arkansas, one of the least healthy states, just one metro area has a lower incidence of premature death than the nation as a whole. Statewide, some 458 in every 100,000 residents die before age 75, the sixth highest premature death rate of any state and higher than the national figure of 336 per 100,000. In the Pine Bluff metro area, 538 in every 100,000 residents die before age 75, the highest premature death rate in Arkansas and fourth highest of U.S. cities.

People earning higher incomes have greater access to health care, can afford healthier food, may have more time to exercise, and have better health outcomes overall. In Pine Bluff, the typical household earns just $37,076 a year, the least of any city in Arkansas and over $20,000 less than the national median of $57,617. Some 21.8% of metro area residents live in poverty, the highest poverty rate of cities in the state and one of the highest in the nation.

Source: LPETTET / Getty Images

5. Bakersfield, California
> Premature death rate: 391.9 per 100,000
> Adult obesity rate: 31.6%
> Adult smoking rate: 16.2%
> Median household income: $49,903

While San Jose and San Francisco are some of the healthiest metro areas in the country, and California is one of the healthiest states overall, some cities in the state report far worse health outcomes than the nation as a whole. In Bakersfield, 392 in every 100,000 residents die before age 75, the third highest premature death rate in California and far higher than the state’s premature death rate of 269 in every 100,00 residents. Some 24.0% of adults in the area report being in fair or poor health, the fifth largest share in California and larger than the state’s share of 17.5%.

Bakersfield’s status as the least healthy city in California is largely due to its poor health behaviors. Some 16.2% of adults smoke and 23.6% of adults do not exercise, each the largest share in California — yet not far from the national smoking rate of 17.0% and inactivity rate of 23.0%.