Special Report

The 40 US Cities With the Shortest Life Expectancy

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Life expectancy is one of the main measures of a population’s overall health. With the exception of the last three years — when the U.S. life expectancy dropped largely because of spikes in suicide and opioid deaths (coronavirus-related deaths have yet to make it into annual statistics) — life expectancy in the United States has generally been increasing.

According to the latest available data, a baby born between 2016 and 2018 in the United States can be expected to live 79 years on average, more than seven years longer than the life expectancy at birth in 1980. The increase in life expectancy at birth and the likelihood of living a long life vary considerably across the United States.

To determine the cities where people have the shortest life expectancy, 24/7 Tempo reviewed 2020 county-level life expectancy at birth figures from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. To obtain metro area life expectancy estimates, we mapped each metro area to its corresponding county.

The association between wealth and life expectancy is well established. Due to worse access to medical care, healthy foods, as well as greater stress related to financial struggles, lower income and poorer individuals tend to have worse health outcomes than wealthier individuals.

The cities on this list tend to have a bigger share of residents living below the national poverty line than metro areas with longer life expectancy. In the national context, all but three cities on this list have higher poverty rates than the national rate of 12.3%.

Another common trend among the cities with the shortest life expectancy is the tendency to report less healthy behaviors than cities with longer life expectancy. In cities with shorter life expectancy, a higher share of adults tend to report lack of physical activity and smoking, and obesity rates are higher too. 

Obesity is associated with higher risk of serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Obesity rates in all but one city on this list are higher than the national average of 29.0%. Similarly, smoking rates in these metro areas are almost always higher than the national average. Only two cities report a lower smoking rate than the national adult smoking rate of 17.0%. This is exactly what happens to your body once you start smoking.

Click here to see the 40 US cities with the shortest life expectancy

To determine the cities where people have the shortest life expectancy, 24/7 Tempo reviewed 2020 county-level life expectancy at birth figures from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR), a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. To obtain metro area life expectancy estimates, we mapped each metro area to its corresponding county.

Metro area-level population and health insurance data and poverty rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. Obesity and smoking rates as well as the share of the population who reports no physical activity on a regular basis came from the CHR.

Source: Robin Zeigler / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

40. Florence-Muscle Shoals, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 75.6 years — 3.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 31.8% — 188th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 17.4% — 138th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.5% — 29th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 10.5% — 115th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 15.8% — 90th out of 382
> Population: 147,970

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Source: csfotoimages / Getty Images

39. Homosassa Springs, Florida
> Life expectancy: 75.6 years — 3.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 29.3% — 262nd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.6% — 54th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 34.8% — 6th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.9% — 77th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 15.7% — 93rd out of 382
> Population: 149,657

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

38. Jackson, Tennessee
> Life expectancy: 75.5 years — 3.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.0% — 20th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 22.4% — 7th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.6% — 26th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 10.8% — 109th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.0% — 85th out of 382
> Population: 178,644

Source: miroslav_1 / Getty Images

37. Dothan, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 75.5 years — 3.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.0% — 22nd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.3% — 67th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.3% — 20th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 12.2% — 68th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 18.6% — 38th out of 382
> Population: 149,358

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Source: Joel Carillet / Getty Images

36. Johnson City, Tennessee
> Life expectancy: 75.5 years — 3.6 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 33.4% — 136th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.8% — 11th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 26.1% — 144th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.0% — 100th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.9% — 47th out of 382
> Population: 203,697

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

35. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 75.5 years — 3.6 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 35.3% — 77th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 17.8% — 123rd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 29.7% — 59th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 8.8% — 164th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 14.0% — 140th out of 382
> Population: 1,090,435

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

34. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
> Life expectancy: 75.5 years — 3.6 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 36.7% — 46th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 16.2% — 206th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.8% — 15th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 18.2% — 10th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 15.0% — 117th out of 382
> Population: 392,563

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

33. Morristown, Tennessee
> Life expectancy: 75.4 years — 3.7 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 35.5% — 74th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.4% — 13th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.3% — 19th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 12.5% — 59th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 11.9% — 231st out of 382
> Population: 142,749

Source: makasana / Getty Images

32. Sumter, South Carolina
> Life expectancy: 75.4 years — 3.7 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.2% — 17th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 18.0% — 111th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 28.0% — 96th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 9.7% — 136th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 19.4% — 28th out of 382
> Population: 140,466

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

31. Lake Charles, Louisiana
> Life expectancy: 75.4 years — 3.7 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 35.4% — 76th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 20.2% — 37th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 29.9% — 52nd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 8.1% — 187th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 20.4% — 21st out of 382
> Population: 209,035

Source: shakzu / Getty Images

30. Vineland-Bridgeton, New Jersey
> Life expectancy: 75.4 years — 3.7 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 35.9% — 64th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 18.3% — 102nd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.2% — 34th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 9.4% — 146th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 13.2% — 174th out of 382
> Population: 149,527

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

29. Flint, Michigan
> Life expectancy: 75.3 years — 3.8 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 34.9% — 85th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.0% — 78th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 26.2% — 138th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 5.3% — 312nd out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.5% — 72nd out of 382
> Population: 405,813

Source: Thomson200 / Wikimedia Commons

28. Rome, Georgia
> Life expectancy: 75.3 years — 3.8 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 37.7% — 27th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 17.0% — 159th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 28.4% — 85th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 14.8% — 27th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.6% — 69th out of 382
> Population: 98,498

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

27. Odessa, Texas
> Life expectancy: 75.3 years — 3.8 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 32.3% — 173rd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 14.2% — 297th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 30.3% — 45th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 21.8% — 5th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 10.4% — 294th out of 382
> Population: 166,223

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26. Weirton-Steubenville, Ohio
> Life expectancy: 75.2 years — 3.9 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 36.9% — 42nd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.0% — 25th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 33.5% — 12nd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 8.5% — 171st out of 382
> Poverty rate: 14.7% — 122nd out of 382
> Population: 115,816

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

25. Fort Smith, Arkansas
> Life expectancy: 75.2 years — 3.9 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 34.0% — 115th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.3% — 17th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.4% — 18th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.1% — 96th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 19.4% — 28th out of 382
> Population: 249,152

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

24. Decatur, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 75.2 years — 3.9 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 32.4% — 167th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.1% — 71st out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 28.8% — 77th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 10.3% — 121st out of 382
> Poverty rate: 15.5% — 103rd out of 382
> Population: 152,603

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

23. Macon, Georgia
> Life expectancy: 75.1 years — 4.0 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 36.9% — 38th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 18.3% — 101st out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.6% — 16th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.0% — 100th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 19.2% — 31st out of 382
> Population: 231,130

Source: matejphoto / Getty Images

22. Parkersburg-Vienna, West Virginia
> Life expectancy: 75.1 years — 4.0 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.8% — 14th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 23.6% — 2nd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 28.2% — 89th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 5.6% — 298th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 14.6% — 124th out of 382
> Population: 89,676

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

21. Mobile, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 75.1 years — 4.0 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 36.3% — 53rd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.4% — 62nd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 30.6% — 42nd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.2% — 92nd out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.7% — 54th out of 382
> Population: 428,039

Source: sshepard / Getty Images

20. Albany, Georgia
> Life expectancy: 75.1 years — 4.0 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 40.9% — 5th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.9% — 41st out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 29.9% — 55th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 17.0% — 15th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 22.6% — 10th out of 382
> Population: 147,384

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Source: BergmannD / iStock via Getty Images

19. Texarkana, Arkansas
> Life expectancy: 75.0 years — 4.1 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 43.6% — 1st out of 382
> Smoking rate: 18.7% — 86th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 39.2% — 1st out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 13.6% — 40th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 14.4% — 127th out of 382
> Population: 149,308

Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

18. Monroe, Louisiana
> Life expectancy: 75.0 years — 4.1 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 39.8% — 8th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.2% — 23rd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.5% — 30th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 8.1% — 187th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 26.0% — 2nd out of 382
> Population: 200,261

Source: danthi66 / Getty Images

17. Hot Springs, Arkansas
> Life expectancy: 75.0 years — 4.1 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 29.5% — 257th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.4% — 61st out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 34.9% — 5th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.0% — 100th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.4% — 59th out of 382
> Population: 99,386

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16. Danville, Illinois
> Life expectancy: 74.9 years — 4.2 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 40.9% — 4th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 17.7% — 125th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.5% — 28th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 5.0% — 318th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.5% — 72nd out of 382
> Population: 75,758

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

15. Columbus, Alabama, Georgia
> Life expectancy: 74.8 years — 4.3 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 39.4% — 10th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.6% — 55th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 30.5% — 43rd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 9.9% — 130th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.5% — 72nd out of 382
> Population: 322,103

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Source: lydiabilby / Getty Images

14. Muncie, Indiana
> Life expectancy: 74.8 years — 4.3 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 34.1% — 110th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.0% — 26th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 27.9% — 100th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 9.4% — 146th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 22.8% — 9th out of 382
> Population: 114,135

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

13. Carson City, Nevada
> Life expectancy: 74.7 years — 4.4 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 28.3% — 289th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.0% — 79th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 22.3% — 264th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 14.8% — 27th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 12.5% — 205th out of 382
> Population: 55,916

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. Kokomo, Indiana
> Life expectancy: 74.7 years — 4.4 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 35.1% — 78th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.2% — 22nd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 30.9% — 39th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.7% — 80th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 11.9% — 231st out of 382
> Population: 82,544

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Source: Richard David Ramsey / Wikimedia Commons

11. Hammond, Louisiana
> Life expectancy: 74.6 years — 4.4 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.7% — 15th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 22.0% — 8th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 33.7% — 11th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 9.0% — 161st out of 382
> Poverty rate: 22.9% — 7th out of 382
> Population: 134,758

Source: Leonard J. DeFrancisci / Wikimedia Commons

10. Rocky Mount, North Carolina
> Life expectancy: 74.6 years — 4.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 40.6% — 7th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 19.2% — 69th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 29.8% — 56th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 9.5% — 142nd out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.2% — 63rd out of 382
> Population: 145,770

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

9. Alexandria, Louisiana
> Life expectancy: 74.6 years — 4.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 41.1% — 3rd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 22.5% — 6th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.2% — 22nd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 10.1% — 127th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.6% — 56th out of 382
> Population: 152,037

Source: felixmizioznikov / Getty Images

8. Florence, South Carolina
> Life expectancy: 74.1 years — 5.0 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 37.9% — 24th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 18.3% — 103rd out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 32.0% — 23rd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.1% — 96th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.9% — 65th out of 382
> Population: 204,911

Source: Cindy Funk / Wikimedia Commons

7. Springfield, Ohio
> Life expectancy: 73.8 years — 5.2 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 33.7% — 123rd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.4% — 14th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 30.5% — 44th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 6.6% — 250th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 14.6% — 124th out of 382
> Population: 134,083

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Source: Crunchy_Numbers / Wikimedia Commons

6. Huntington-Ashland, Kentucky
> Life expectancy: 73.6 years — 5.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 37.7% — 26th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 22.0% — 9th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.4% — 33rd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 7.9% — 196th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 16.9% — 65th out of 382
> Population: 355,873

Source: Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

5. Pine Bluff, Arkansas
> Life expectancy: 73.6 years — 5.5 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 39.3% — 12nd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.3% — 18th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 34.9% — 4th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 7.2% — 226th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 23.6% — 6th out of 382
> Population: 89,437

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

4. Charleston, West Virginia
> Life expectancy: 73.3 years — 5.8 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.0% — 21st out of 382
> Smoking rate: 21.4% — 15th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 28.5% — 82nd out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 5.9% — 281st out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.1% — 64th out of 382
> Population: 257,814

Source: Rivers Langley; SaveRivers / Wikimedia Commons

3. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 73.0 years — 6.1 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 38.5% — 16th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 20.6% — 30th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.7% — 24th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 11.1% — 96th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.3% — 62nd out of 382
> Population: 113,605

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Gadsden, Alabama
> Life expectancy: 73.0 years — 6.1 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 35.5% — 72nd out of 382
> Smoking rate: 20.1% — 39th out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 34.1% — 7th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 13.2% — 46th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 19.7% — 25th out of 382
> Population: 102,268

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Source: Tim Kiser (w:User:Malepheasant) / Wikimedia Commons

1. Beckley, West Virginia
> Life expectancy: 73.0 years — 6.1 less than US average
> Obesity rate: 39.4% — 11th out of 382
> Smoking rate: 24.7% — 1st out of 382
> Adults who don’t exercise regularly: 31.2% — 37th out of 382
> Adults without health insurance: 7.2% — 226th out of 382
> Poverty rate: 17.9% — 47th out of 382
> Population: 115,767

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