Special Report

The Healthiest City in Every State

Source: John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

21. Massachusetts: Barnstable Town
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 305.9 (state: 284.7)
> Adult obesity rate: 20.4% (state: 24.4%)
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 3.1% (state: 3.0%)
> Median household income: $71,235 (state: $77,385)

Barnstable Town is the healthiest city in one of the healthiest states. Just 15.2% of adults in Barnstable Town do not exercise, the smallest share of any city in Massachusetts and far less than the 22.2% national inactivity rate. Physical activity helps in maintaining healthy weight, and in Barnstable Town, just 20.4% of adults are obese — the smallest share in Massachusetts and nearly the smallest of any metro area nationwide.

In self-reported assessments of general health, individuals who exercise regularly and exhibit other healthy behaviors are more likely to rank their health as good or excellent. In Barnstable Town, just 10.4% of adults report being in fair or poor health, the smallest share in Massachusetts and the fourth smallest share of any U.S. metro area.

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22. Michigan: Ann Arbor
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 248.8 (state: 366.4)
> Adult obesity rate: 23.8% (state: 31.7%)
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 4.9% (state: 6.4%)
> Median household income: $70,286 (state: $54,909)

Only 11.5% of adults in Ann Arbor are in fair or poor health, the smallest share of any of the state’s 14 metro areas and below the 17.4% of adults across the state as a whole reporting similar health. Additionally, Ann Arbor’s 23.8% obesity rate is the lowest in the state and well below the 31.7% statewide rate.

Exercise can lead to a greater perception of one’s own well-being and help in maintaining a healthy weight. In Ann Arbor, about 85% of adults are regularly physically active, by far the largest share of the state’s metro areas and well above share of 78% among all adults across Michigan.

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23. Minnesota: Rochester
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 230.6 (state: 266.5)
> Adult obesity rate: 27.3% (state: 27.6%)
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 4.8% (state: 4.8%)
> Median household income: $71,985 (state: $68,388)

Adults in Rochester report an average of just 2.7 physically unhealthy days per month, the smallest share of any metro area in Minnesota and below the 3.0 day statewide average. Rochester residents are also less likely than those in some other parts of the state to engage in certain risky behaviors. For example, the rates of avoidable health outcomes like sexually transmitted infections and of driving deaths that involve alcohol are lower in Rochester than they are across the state as a whole.

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24. Mississippi: Jackson
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 459.2 (state: 499.1)
> Adult obesity rate: 36.1% (state: 36.5%)
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 12.2% (state: 14.0%)
> Median household income: $52,434 (state: $43,529)

While Jackson is the healthiest metro area in Mississippi, city residents are still less healthy than the average American by several metrics. Some 18.1% of adults in Jackson smoke, for example, the smallest share in Mississippi yet a higher share than the 17.0% national smoking rate. Similarly, while Jackson’s 36.1% obesity rate is slightly lower than the state rate of 36.5%, it is far higher than the national obesity rate of 28.5%.

Tobacco use and obesity are the two leading causes of preventable death. In Jackson, 459 in every 100,000 residents die before the age of 75 annually, the lowest premature death rate in Mississippi yet far more than the national rate of 340 per 100,000.

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25. Missouri: Columbia
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 284.9 (state: 395.9)
> Adult obesity rate: 26.5% (state: 32.2%)
> Rate of uninsured people under 65: 9.2% (state: 10.6%)
> Median household income: $51,340 (state: $53,578)

People in Columbia, Missouri, are more likely to live long, healthy lives than those in any of the state’s seven other metro areas. The premature death rate of 285 deaths before age 75 for every 100,000 people in the metro area is well below the comparable statewide rate of 396 per 100,000. Additionally, just 16.8% of adults in Columbia report being in fair or poor health, below the 18.5% of adults statewide.

The positive health outcomes are attributable in part to healthy behaviors. For example, adults in Columbia are more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke than adults across the state as a whole.

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