Special Report

The Least Healthy City in Every State

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Kansas: Wichita
> Adult obesity rate: 34.0% (state: 33.2%)
> Adult smoking rate: 16.7% (state: 17.4%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 26.0% (state: 24.8%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 10.9% (state: 10.1%)
> Median household income: $59,779 (state: $62,087)

Certain unhealthy habits are more common in Wichita than in any other metro area in the state. For example, 26.0% of adults do not exercise regularly, the largest share of the four metro areas in Kansas. Unhealthy lifestyles may be taking a toll, as 34.0% of adults in Wichita are obese, compared to 33.2% across Kansas.

Unemployment is associated with increased risk of unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption and poor diet and an increased risk of premature mortality overall. In Wichita, the annual unemployment rate stands at 3.4%, higher than every other metro area in Kansas and slightly higher than the state jobless rate of 3.2%.

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Kentucky: Bowling Green
> Adult obesity rate: 31.4% (state: 33.8%)
> Adult smoking rate: 20.5% (state: 24.6%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 26.2% (state: 28.6%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 7.4% (state: 6.4%)
> Median household income: $51,198 (state: $52,295)

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.

For example, 20.5% of Bowling Green residents smoke, less than the smoking rate of 24.6% statewide.

Additionally, 31.4% of Bowling Green adults are obese, compared to the state obesity rate of 33.8%. Overall, 433 in every 100,000 Bowling Green residents die before the age of 75, the third highest premature death rate of any metro area in Kentucky and higher than the national average of 340 premature deaths per 100,000 people, yet less than the state rate of 475 per 100,000.

Louisiana: Hammond
> Adult obesity rate: 38.7% (state: 35.4%)
> Adult smoking rate: 22.0% (state: 23.1%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 33.7% (state: 29.2%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 10.1% (state: 9.6%)
> Median household income: $47,825 (state: $51,073)

Hammond 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 22.0% in Hammond is lower than the state smoking rate of 23.1%, it is the second highest among metro areas in the state.

Hammond residents are also more likely to lead physically inactive lifestyles than those in any other metro area in the state. About 33.7% of adults in Hammond report no leisure-time physical activity, the 11 highest share of all 381 metro areas in the U.S. For context, the physical inactivity rate in Louisiana is 29.2%, and the national rate is 23.0%.

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Maine: Bangor
> Adult obesity rate: 33.7% (state: 29.9%)
> Adult smoking rate: 16.9% (state: 17.3%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 23.5% (state: 21.6%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 10.9% (state: 10.2%)
> Median household income: $50,449 (state: $58,924)

About 23.5% of adults in the Bangor metro area do not regularly engage in physical activity, compared to 21.6% of adults across the state. Regular exercise can help in maintaining a healthy weight, and 33.7% of adults in Bangor are obese, compared to 29.9% of adults across the state. Exercise and other healthy behaviors can also help lower the risk of premature death. In Bangor, some 379 in every 100,000 residents die before the age of 75, more than the statewide rate of 337 per 100,000.

People with health insurance are more likely to get screened for health problems because they do not have to pay the prohibitively high prices of such tests, and often, the earlier a disease is caught, the better the chances of successful treatment. Bangor has the state’s highest uninsured rate at 10.9%, higher than the statewide and nationwide rates of 10.2% and 10.0%, respectively.

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Maryland: Cumberland
> Adult obesity rate: 36.4% (state: 31.0%)
> Adult smoking rate: 17.5% (state: 13.8%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 27.9% (state: 22.4%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 6.2% (state: 7.0%)
> Median household income: $49,729 (state: $86,738)

Cumberland is the least healthy of the five metro areas in Maryland. The smoking rate in the city is 17.5%, higher than both the state smoking rate of 13.8% 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 434 premature deaths annually for every 100,000 people, well above the state rate of 339 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 $49,729 a year. Meanwhile, the typical Maryland household earns nearly $87,000 annually.