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And the Healthiest US City Is . . .

And the Healthiest US city is . . .

. . . Burlington, VT. This is Vermont's largest city, and of all America's cities, it has the largest proportion of people who say they are in good or great health — 92 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this city also rates lowest in diabetes and obesity. In this area, outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, and snowshoeing are popular. There are also a plethora of healthy dining options, with many restaurants offering vegan and vegetarian options, grass-fed beef, and organic produce. Another plus on the health front is that many people are employed by IBM, which offers generous health benefits and wellness programs.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, to find out which US city is the most unhealthy,


Huntington, WV, is the unhealthiest city. When compared to Burlington, both are college towns with populations that are mostly white with English, German, or Irish decent. They have some very distinct differences, though:

Burlington, VT Huntington, WV
Average age of citizens 37 40
Poverty 8 percent live at poverty level 19 percent live at poverty level
Education 40 percent have at least college bachelor's degree 15 percent have at least college bachelor's degree

These differences have a huge effect on the health of the community members. Since poverty is more prevalent in Huntington, people can't afford to eat nutritious foods. A diet of fried foods, salt, gravy, sauces, and fatty meats is the norm, and fast food has become a staple. To make matters worse, most people in Huntington don't exercise in their spare time, and this coupled with a poor diet has caused high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

How does your state compare? Check out this map to find out.

Join The Conversation
kvaen kvaen 8 years
Also in addition to what commenters above have said about rural grocery stores being inconvenient, poorer neighborhoods in urban areas tend to have more corner stores than groceries so lots of junk food, prepakaged stuff, no produce, and the grocery stores tend to have older, worse quality produce and more limited selections, the produce goes bad faster because it is older and is less appealing in the store.
kvaen kvaen 8 years
What you forget about poverty when talking about how home-made healthy food is cheaper (and sure, it can be, excepting certain things like ramen.. which can be healthed up a bit) is that food choices, even for the poor are not just about expense, convenience is even more important when you: - Work more than one job - Have to live far from your employment (lack of affordable housing) and have to use underfunded public transport add to that if you have to go between multiple places of employment - Don't have child-care options - Are attempting job-skills classes - Don't have the knowledge base to make healthy food choices to begin with or even access to that information. - Rely on food stamps (which are limiting)or commodities (dude, its all fake cheese and weirdness) or food banks (which aren't generally stocked with the healthiest foods) - Your kids need to feed themselves while you are away etc also emotional eating becomes a stronger aspect when you can't afford any other entertainment than food in front of the tv, certainly nothing active. Simple sugars are a cheap way to feel better and are very linked in our culture to social bonding. Poverty and obesity are linked and complicated, its not as simple as 'you can make it yourself, healthier, for cheap'
wvgirl wvgirl 8 years
To the commenters who see a link between poverty and ill health: thank you! I grew up in the Huntington area, and it's true that produce is quite expensive there. Also, that report considers "Huntington" to be a FIVE COUNTY metropolitan area - a lot of that area is actually very rural; many people have to drive quite a ways to get to a grocery store. When you are working long hours for low pay, you want to make those trips to the store as fast and infrequent as possible, and you want to get food that's inexpensive easy to prepare. Without good health education, that means that it's all too easy to buy pre-packaged foods that you can cook quickly, or your kids can prepare by themselves while you are working. It's sad, but it's true.
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
Good point about the health education, JessicaLE. Feeding one person when you're at or below the poverty line is one thing. Feeding yourself and 3 or 4 children is another. They obviously don't have any income, but they still need to be fed. I totally see the point that it can be done, but I think there are some circumstances when it's nearly impossible.
JessicaLE JessicaLE 8 years
Right on HippieCowgirl. At my poorest in college I was buying ramen for 20 cents a package. I ate for LESS than a dollar each day. And I'm in OH too- and it's quite difficult to find fresh produce at a good cost. If you want CHEAP produce, you have to lower your standards and get the nasty stuff that will undoubtedly go bad within two days. If you have no money and you live in a poorer area, it's really difficult to get to the grocery stores that have a better selection of healthy foods if you don't have a car or bus money. Certain areas in my city have only gas stations and a very BAD grocery store that's in walking distance. You also have to take into account the fact that poorer areas have less access to quality health education. So even if people do decide to splurge on groceries, they're a lot less likely to choose the "right" things.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i'm not surprise that there's a city in VT that is classified as the healthiest. i think that sometimes people forget that when there are a LOT of outdoors things to do, and when you're a little taken outside of an urban area that the quality of life can be that much better. that's kind of what cities in Colorado are typically high up on the list as well right?
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
boxed mac and cheese costs more than a box of plain pasta and homemade sauce with fresh or even canned tomatoes and some species . . . and that's a healthy and inexpensive meal! I was a grad student for 2 yrs and I had $0 and I still ate healthy home cooked meals! I never "had" to eat ramen or fast food. Bagged salad is also less expensive than fresh salad and a decent alternative. Obviously it matters where you live but it also matters about making smart money choices (like i didn't have extended digital cable or super fast Internet so I saved money on those things to eat better).
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
I have to disagree about poverty not being linked to poor eating habits. The number that defines "poverty" is extremely low and I don't even see how it covers basic living expenses in most areas. I don't know where everyone else lives, but produce here in Ohio is expensive and I can most definitely see where Ramen noodles, boxed mac & cheese or fast food would be the only affordable options.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
I agree, cmd0610. Not buying processed foods puts a bunch of money IN your pocket.
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
I don't think the ingredients for salads or fruits or simple healthy meals from the grocery store cost more than a disgusting meal at McD's or a bag of chips and a 2L bottle of soda (unless you are buying organic, but u don't have to buy organic to be healthy). I hate when the excuse for ppl being unhealthy is that it's too expensive to be healthy!
tsp tsp 8 years
i love burlington, too laurenG22! i grew up vacationing in Vermont, and miss that so much!
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
Love Burlington! It is so much fun to visit there, but its kinda sparse so I am not sure I would want to live there, healthy or not :shrug:
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 8 years
Vermont: Home of cheese and Ben and Jerry's!
mks0880 mks0880 8 years
but just because people say they're in good health doesn't necessarily mean they are in good health...just saying...
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