As the percentage of obese adults in the United States has surged to 36.5% and many lifestyles have become more sedentary, scientists and government organizations have researched healthy and unhealthy behaviors across the country, especially in major metropolitan areas.
While it is difficult to precisely define “good health,” the Center for Disease Control has identified five factors that can improve or hurt one’s health. These factors include: BMI, physical activity, sleep, smoking patterns, and drinking habits.
The first criteria, BMI, or Body Mass Index, measures a person’s body fat in relation to his/her height and weight. A BMI in the 18.5 – 24.9 range is considered “normal” and healthy, while a BMI over 30 is considered “obese.” BMI is largely determined by diet and exercise.
The other four criteria are behaviors, all of which can influence BMI and overall health. Physical activity, such as cardiovascular exercise (or even walking rather than driving), has numerous benefits including weight loss, reduced risk of disease, improved mental health, and increased lifespan.
Getting ample sleep – now defined as 7 or more hours per night – can also improve alertness, reduce fatigue, and boost overall mood. Smoking and binge drinking can negatively affect health, often causing organ damage, higher levels of stress, and even physical or mental dependence.
Using these criteria, researchers at ConsumersAdvocate.org decided to see which big cities had the healthiest habits in the nation. California dominates the list, but a common theme throughout is that most of these healthy cities offer convenient access to the great outdoors.
Behavioral health data was sourced from the Center for Disease Control’s 2017 release of the 500 Cities project, while “Total Population” was collected from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2016 5-year estimates.
In the overall “Health Score,” each behavioral health metric was weighted equally. For each city, a total score was calculated by summing its healthy percentages for each behavioral question. The resulting total scores were then converted to a 100-point scale. Cities with fewer than 500,000 people were filtered out.
Here are the ten cities with the healthiest habits in the United States:
10. Charlotte, NC
9. Los Angeles, CA
8. Austin, TX
7. Albuquerque, NM
6. Portland, OR
5. San Diego, CA
4. Denver, CO
3. San Francisco, CA
2. San Jose, CA
1. Seattle, WA