With the cost to treat patients projected to rise by 6.5 percent in 2022 and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to be a big public health threat, the personal-finance website WalletHub on April 4 released its report on 2022’s Healthiest and Unhealthiest Cities in America, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.
To identify the places where health is a priority, WalletHub compared more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities across 43 key metrics. The data set ranges from the cost of a medical visit to fruit and vegetable consumption to COVID-19 cases. To view the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/healthiest-cities/31072
Healthiest Cities, those making the top 10, were: San Francisco, CA, first; followed by Seattle, WA, second; San Diego, CA; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; Honolulu, HI: Austin, TX; Denver, CO; South Burlington, VT; and in 10th place was Washington, DC.
Rated as the Unhealthiest Cities, in the bottom 10 of the study, were, at number 173, Montgomery, AL; followed by Columbus, GA, 174; Augusta, GA; Shreveport, LA; Charleston, WV; Jackson, MS; Memphis, TN; Laredo, TX; Gulfport, MS; and at number 182, Brownsville, TX.
Fremont, California, has the lowest share of physically unhealthy adults, 8.00 percent, which is 2.5 times lower than in Huntington, West Virginia, the city with the highest at 19.60 percent.
Laredo, Texas, has the lowest cost per doctor’s visit, $56.00, which is 3.9 times less expensive than in Juneau, Alaska, the city with the highest at $219.00.
Burlington, Vermont, and South Burlington, Vermont, have the lowest share of adults eating fruit less than once daily, 30.40 percent, which is 1.7 times lower than in Gulfport, Mississippi, the city with the highest at 51.80 percent.
Glendale, Arizona, and Lewiston, Maine, have the lowest average monthly cost for a fitness-club membership, $15.00, which is 7.2 times less expensive than in New York, the city with the highest at $108.26.
What are the most important factors to consider in choosing a city that is good for your health?
“For those with specific medical conditions, it is important to consider whether you can easily access the medical care you need. For more general health concerns, one of the most important things to look for is whether the city allows getting outside and exercising. Are there green spaces, parks, and/or safe streets with sidewalks? Also, health is as much about mental and emotional well-being as it is about physical well-being, so it is also important to reflect on whether this is a city where you can feel at home. Is it close to friends and family who enhance your life? Is it the kind of place where you can readily incorporate your passions and preferences (or hobbies) into your daily life?”
Amy L. McGuire, JD, Ph.D. – Professor; Director, Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine
What tips do you have for a person looking to embrace a more healthy lifestyle while on a budget?
“We have all heard it – exercise, nutrition, stress management, preventative health, and dental care. Becoming healthier can seem overwhelming but you really do not need much money to make changes towards a healthier lifestyle. For example, you do not need fancy equipment to stay active. You can walk or roll, dance, stretch, or do resistance training (using everyday objects) in your own home or in the community…In order to help address everyday stresses, you can practice relaxation techniques or mindfulness as well as exercise. For those with internet access, several free programs support physical, mental, and emotional health as well as healthy eating on a budget. Preventative dental care is also important to overall health so do not forget to brush and floss. You can also make small changes at work. If you have a desk job, make sure you take breaks and move around…And reach out to someone you can rely on to be your healthy lifestyle buddy.”
Stephanie Hanson, Ph.D., ABPP (Rp) – Executive Associate Dean, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida
Since health and wealth are both long-term investments, what are some effective strategies for convincing people to invest more in their health today?
“Developing healthy habits – at an early age – are the best investment we can make in our own health. Healthy habits and behaviors benefit our health over a lifetime and improve health and quality of life starting at any age. My favorite example is the extraordinary health benefit of regular physical activity. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity – in the short term – improves sleep, reduces stress and anxiety, and lowers blood pressure. Over time, regular physical activity improves heart and brain health, strengthens bones, prevents many types of cancer, and helps us keep a healthy weight. Regular physical activity, such as walking, is one of the best investments we can make in our health. Current science-based guidelines include this advice for everyone.”
Jan K. Carney, MD, MPH – Associate Dean; Professor; Director, Graduate Public Health Programs, University of Vermont