Special Report

The Least Healthy City in Every State

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Massachusetts: Springfield
> Adult obesity rate: 29.2% (state: 24.7%)
> Adult smoking rate: 14.9% (state: 13.7%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 23.4% (state: 21.3%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 3.4% (state: 3.3%)
> Median household income: $62,346 (state: $85,843)

Springfield is the least healthy of the five metro areas in Massachusetts. Some 16.8% of metro area adults in the city report being in fair or poor health, a larger share than in every other metro area in the state and well above the 14.4% share of adults across Massachusetts as a whole.

The prevalence of low self-reported health status in Springfield is likely attributable in part to unhealthy lifestyles. Adults in Springfield are more likely to lead sedentary lives and more likely to smoke than adults in every other metro area in the state.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

Michigan: Flint
> Adult obesity rate: 34.9% (state: 32.0%)
> Adult smoking rate: 19.0% (state: 19.3%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 26.2% (state: 23.4%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 6.7% (state: 6.1%)
> Median household income: $50,389 (state: $59,584)

Low birthweight can be indicative of unhealthy maternal lifestyles, limited access to health care, and other negative environmental factors. Flint is the only metro area in Michigan where over 10% of newborns weigh below what is considered a healthy weight, one of the highest shares of any metro area in the country. Flint also has the highest premature death rate among metro areas in the state, with 479 deaths before age 75 annually for every 100,000 people.

Those who are unemployed are more likely to have unhealthy behaviors and report worse health outcomes than those who are employed. In Flint, the annual unemployment rate stands at 4.9%, the highest of any metro area in the state.

Source: LIKE HE / iStock via Getty Images

Minnesota: Duluth
> Adult obesity rate: 29.0% (state: 27.9%)
> Adult smoking rate: 17.3% (state: 14.5%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 21.5% (state: 20.1%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 5.4% (state: 5.1%)
> Median household income: $60,316 (state: $74,593)

Smoking — the leading cause of preventable death in the United States — is relatively common in Duluth, as 17.3% of adults are smokers, the largest share of any metro area in Minnesota. Duluth has the highest premature death rate in the state at 333 deaths per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the state average of 266 deaths per 100,000 people.

People with health insurance are more likely to get screened for different health problems because they do not have to pay prohibitively high out-of-pocket prices for tests, and the earlier the disease is caught, the better. About 5.4% of Duluth residents lack health insurance, more than any other metro area in the state.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

Mississippi: Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula
> Adult obesity rate: 33.5% (state: 36.8%)
> Adult smoking rate: 20.4% (state: 22.2%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 29.3% (state: 31.9%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 15.1% (state: 14.5%)
> Median household income: $50,642 (state: $45,792)

Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula ranks as the least healthy metro area in Mississippi. About 15.1% of adult residents are uninsured, more than the state uninsured rate of 14.5% and more than any other metro area in Mississippi. Residents of Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula report 4.4 mentally unhealthy days a month, more than the other two metro areas in the state but slightly less than the state average of 5.0 days a month.

People living in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula are more likely to practice certain unhealthy habits. The 20.4% smoking rate in Gulfport is the highest of any metro area in the state and one of the highest in the country, yet below the 22.2% statewide smoking rate.

Source: LarryKnupp / Getty Images

Missouri: St. Joseph
> Adult obesity rate: 37.4% (state: 32.2%)
> Adult smoking rate: 20.8% (state: 20.8%)
> Pct. of adults who don’t exercise: 30.9% (state: 25.8%)
> Residents with no health insurance: 11.0% (state: 10.9%)
> Median household income: $50,425 (state: $57,409)

Some 37.4% of adults in the St. Joseph metro area are obese, the largest share of any metro area in Missouri. Additionally, 20.8% of adults smoke, also the largest share in the state. Unhealthy lifestyles can contribute to poor health outcomes, and about one in every five adults in St. Joseph report being in fair or poor health — the largest share of any metro area in Missouri and above both the 18.0% state and 17.0% national rates.

Adults in St. Joseph are also less likely to exercise than the typical adult in the state. The prevalence of sedentary lifestyles may be partially attributable to a lack of exercise opportunities in the metro area. Just 74.9% of the metro population has access to places for physical activity like parks and recreation centers — below the 76.7% share of state residents and 84.0% of Americans nationwide who do.