Special Report

The Least Healthy City in Every State

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16. Kansas: Wichita
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 392.6 (state: 348.7)
> Adult obesity rate: 33.9% (state: 33.2%)
> Adult smoking rate: 18.5% (state: 17.2%)
> Median household income: $54,432 (state: $56,422)

Certain unhealthy habits are more common in Wichita than in any other metro area in the state. For example, 18.5% of adults smoke, and 24.5% of adults do not exercise regularly, each the largest share of the four metro areas in Kansas. Unhealthy lifestyles appear to be taking a toll, as adults in Wichita are more likely than those in other Kansas metro areas to assess their own health as fair or poor.

Unemployment is associated with unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption and poor diet, and an increased risk of premature mortality overall. In Wichita, the unemployment rate stands at 3.7%, higher than every other metro area in Kansas and higher than the statewide jobless rate of 3.4%.

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17. Kentucky: Bowling Green
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 436.3 (state: 471.7)
> Adult obesity rate: 32.1% (state: 34.2%)
> Adult smoking rate: 20.2% (state: 24.5%)
> Median household income: $46,478 (state: $48,375)

People living in urban areas tend to have healthier behaviors and better health outcomes than those living in rural areas. So while Bowling Green is the least healthy city in Kentucky, it is still healthier than the population of the relatively rural state as a whole by several measures.

Some 20.2% of Bowling Green residents smoke, less than the smoking rate of 24.5% statewide. Additionally, 32.1% of Bowling Green adults are obese, compared to the state obesity rate of 34.2%. Overall, 436 in every 100,000 Bowling Green residents die before the age of 75, the second highest premature death rate of any metro area in Kentucky yet less than the state rate of 472 per 100,000.

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Source: Richard David Ramsey / Wikimedia Commons

18. Louisiana: Hammond
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 500.7 (state: 452.5)
> Adult obesity rate: 38.5% (state: 35.3%)
> Adult smoking rate: 20.4% (state: 22.8%)
> Median household income: $44,861 (state: $46,145)

Monroe is the least healthy of the nine metro areas in Louisiana. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. And though the smoking rate of 22.5% in Monroe is lower than the 22.8% rate for Louisiana as a whole, it is higher than in every other metro area in the state.

Monroe residents are also more likely to report low health status than the average Louisianian. Adults in Monroe report 4.4 mentally unhealthy days and 4.2 physically unhealthy days per month on average, the most of any metro area in the state.

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19. Maine: Bangor
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 374.6 (state: 337.8)
> Adult obesity rate: 31.9% (state: 29.4%)
> Adult smoking rate: 19.0% (state: 19.8%)
> Median household income: $50,349 (state: $56,277)

Adults in the Bangor metro area are slightly less likely to regularly engage in physical activity than adults across Maine as a whole. Regular exercise can help in maintaining a healthy weight, and in Bangor 31.9% of adults are obese, compared to 29.4% of adults across the state. Exercise and other healthy behaviors can also help lower the risk of premature death. In Bangor, some 375 in every 100,000 residents die before the age of 75, more than the statewide rate of 338 per 100,000.

Living in poverty can greatly reduce a person’s opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle, and as a result, poorer Americans often report worse health outcomes. In Bangor, 14.6% of residents live below the poverty line, compared to 11.1% of the Maine population.

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Source: John M. Chase / Getty Images

20. Maryland: Cumberland
> Premature death rate (per 100,000): 428.6 (state: 335.8)
> Adult obesity rate: 37.1% (state: 30.3%)
> Adult smoking rate: 17.4% (state: 13.7%)
> Median household income: $42,113 (state: $80,776)

Cumberland is the least healthy of the five metro areas in Maryland. The smoking rate in the city is 17.4%, higher than both the state smoking rate of 13.7% and the national rate of 17.0%. Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, and in Cumberland, there are 428 premature deaths annually for every 100,000 people, well above the state rate of 336 per 100,000.

Lower-income Americans do not have access to as many health care options as those with higher incomes, and they are less able to afford leading a healthy lifestyle. In Cumberland, the typical household earns just $42,113 a year. Meanwhile, the typical Maryland household earns over $80,000 annually.

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