Special Report

The Healthiest City in Every State

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New Mexico: Santa Fe
> Adult obesity rate: 14.4% (state: 26.6%)
> Adult smoking rate: 13.7% (state: 17.5%)
> Pct. of adults who exercise: 87.9% (state: 80.3%)
> Residents with health insurance: 86.7% (state: 89.0%)
> Median household income: $61,298 (state: $51,945)

Sante Fe is the only metro area in New Mexico where adults report fewer than four physically unhealthy days per month. Sante Fe’s obesity rate of just 14.4% is also the lowest in both the state and the entire country. Across New Mexico, 26.6% of adults are obese, and nationwide, 29.0% of Americans are.

Wealthier individuals tend to have better access to health care and can better afford a range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. In Santa Fe, incomes tend to be higher than the average statewide. The typical metro area household earns $61,298 a year, about $9,000 more than the median household income of $51,945 across New Mexico.

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New York: Ithaca
> Adult obesity rate: 22.7% (state: 25.5%)
> Adult smoking rate: 14.1% (state: 14.1%)
> Pct. of adults who exercise: 84.3% (state: 75.3%)
> Residents with health insurance: 94.7% (state: 93.4%)
> Median household income: $58,626 (state: $72,108)

A high rate of low birth weights among newborns is often indicative of relatively poor health and nutrition of the mothers in that community. In Ithaca, just 6.8% of newborns are born under 2,500 grams (about 5.5 pounds), nearly the lowest share of low birthweight of New York’s 12 metro areas.

In Ithaca, which is home to Ithaca College and Cornell University, 56.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the largest share in the state and the third largest share of U.S. metro areas. Adults with higher educational attainment are more likely to lead healthier lives.

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North Carolina: Raleigh
> Adult obesity rate: 28.2% (state: 31.4%)
> Adult smoking rate: 13.3% (state: 17.2%)
> Pct. of adults who exercise: 81.1% (state: 75.7%)
> Residents with health insurance: 89.2% (state: 87.4%)
> Median household income: $80,096 (state: $57,341)

Wealthier Americans tend to report better health outcomes, as they often have better access to health care and can better afford a range of healthy diet and lifestyle options. In Raleigh, the typical household earns $80,096 a year, by far the most of any of North Carolina’s 15 metro areas and well above the statewide median household income of $57,341.

Only 18.9% of adults in Raleigh get no exercise beyond getting up and going to work, the lowest inactivity rate in the state and well below the rate of 24.3% across North Carolina. Regular physical activity can help in maintaining a healthy weight, and in Raleigh, 28.2% of adults are obese, well below the state obesity rate of 31.4%.

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North Dakota: Fargo
> Adult obesity rate: 30.5% (state: 32.7%)
> Adult smoking rate: 16.0% (state: 18.3%)
> Pct. of adults who exercise: 80.6% (state: 76.1%)
> Residents with health insurance: 93.5% (state: 91.4%)
> Median household income: $62,820 (state: $64,577)

Based on several major measures of health outcomes, the residents of North Dakota’s three metropolitan areas — Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Fork — are among the healthiest in the country. Fargo, however, ranks the healthiest of the three. Adults in the metro area report nearly the lowest average number of poor mental health days and poor physical health days per month of any U.S. metro area.

Unemployed Americans are more likely to have unhealthy lifestyles and poor health outcomes. In Fargo, the 2.3% annual unemployment rate in 2019 was the lowest in the state and well below the 3.7% national rate.

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Ohio: Columbus
> Adult obesity rate: 31.0% (state: 32.3%)
> Adult smoking rate: 19.1% (state: 21.1%)
> Pct. of adults who exercise: 76.2% (state: 73.6%)
> Residents with health insurance: 92.7% (state: 92.9%)
> Median household income: $67,207 (state: $58,642)

In Columbus, just 15.9% of adults report being in fair or poor health, the smallest share of any of Ohio ‘s 11 metro areas and well below the 18.0% share of adults reporting subpar health across the state as a whole.

Ohio is one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, and some metro areas in the state report among the highest drug overdose death rates in the country. In Columbus, however, there are 73 accidental deaths — which include drug overdoses — for every 100,000 people per year, nearly the lowest of any metro area in the state and well below the rate of 87 per 100,000 across Ohio.