Special Report

The Least Healthy City in Every State

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Alabama: Mobile
> Adult obesity rate: 36.3% (state: 35.5%)
> Adult smoking rate: 19.4% (state: 20.9%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 30.6% (state: 29.8%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 11.7% (state: 11.0%)
> Median household income: $49,561 (state: $51,734)

Unhealthy lifestyles are relatively common in Mobile, Alabama. Adults in the metro area are more likely to be obese than adults across the state as a whole. They are also less likely to exercise. About 30.6% of adults in the metro area have sedentary lifestyles, slightly more than the state average of 29.8% of adults who do not exercise and well above the national average of 23.0%.

Unhealthy habits may be taking a toll. The age-adjusted premature death rate of 496 deaths before age 75 for every 100,000 people annually is well above the premature death rate statewide of 475 per 100,000 and is the 22nd highest rate of any metro area in the U.S.

Alaska: Anchorage
> Adult obesity rate: 32.5% (state: 32.5%)
> Adult smoking rate: 15.7% (state: 21.0%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 18.7% (state: 20.0%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 13.3% (state: 14.8%)
> Median household income: $80,676 (state: $75,463)

Of the two metro areas in Alaska — Anchorage and Fairbanks — Anchorage ranks as the least healthy. Adults in Anchorage are less likely to exercise regularly and slightly more likely to be obese than those living in Fairbanks.

Those who are unemployed are more likely to have certain unhealthy behaviors and report worse health outcomes than those who are employed. In Anchorage, the annual unemployment rate stands at 5.5%, slightly higher than the 5.4% rate in Fairbanks.

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Arizona: Lake Havasu City-Kingman
> Adult obesity rate: 31.8% (state: 27.5%)
> Adult smoking rate: 19.4% (state: 15.6%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 32.2% (state: 21.8%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 13.4% (state: 12.1%)
> Median household income: $50,179 (state: $62,055)

Lake Havasu City has the highest premature death rate of any of the seven metro areas in Arizona. There are 503 deaths before age 75 annually for every 100,000 people in the metro area, compared to a statewide rate of 332 per 100,000.

Such negative health outcomes are likely partially attributable to unhealthy lifestyles in the metro area. For example, 19.4% of adults in Lake Havasu City smoke, compared to 15.6% of adults statewide. Additionally, 31.8% of area adults are obese, compared to 27.5% of adults across the state. Obesity is a risk factor for a number of potentially fatal diseases and conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Source: Paul Sableman (Flickr user: pasa47) / Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Pine Bluff
> Adult obesity rate: 39.3% (state: 34.2%)
> Adult smoking rate: 21.3% (state: 22.3%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 34.9% (state: 31.6%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 7.6% (state: 9.3%)
> Median household income: $41,541 (state: $48,952)

Pine Bluff is the least healthy metro area in Arkansas and one of the least healthy nationwide. About 39.3% of adults are obese, one of the largest shares of all 381 metro areas in the country. The state’s adult obesity rate is 34.2%, and the national rate is 29.0%. Obesity is a risk factor for a number of potentially deadly diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Premature death is far more common in Pine Bluff than it is across the state as a whole. For every 100,000 people in the metro area, there are 563 deaths before age 75 annually, compared to a rate of 460 deaths per 100,000 people across Arkansas.

Lower-income Americans have less access to quality health care options than those with higher incomes, and they are less able to afford living a healthy lifestyle. In Pine Bluff, the typical household earns just $41,541 a year, one of the lowest median household incomes of all U.S. metro areas and lower than the state median of $48,952 and the national median of $65,712.

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California: Bakersfield
> Adult obesity rate: 32.3% (state: 23.6%)
> Adult smoking rate: 15.3% (state: 11.3%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 22.4% (state: 17.6%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 8.6% (state: 8.2%)
> Median household income: $53,067 (state: $80,440)

Of the 26 metro areas in California, Bakersfield is the least healthy. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and in Bakersfield, 15.3% of adults are smokers, the largest share of any metro area in the state and higher than the statewide smoking rate of 11.3%. Bakersfield residents are also far less likely to exercise than the typical Californian. Just 77.6% of metro area adults engage in some leisure-time physical activity, compared to 82.4% of adults across the state.

The prevalence of sedentary lifestyles in Bakersfield may be due in part to a lack of exercise opportunities. About 75.9% of metro area residents have access to places for exercise like parks or recreation centers, compared to over 93.1% of all Californians.

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