America’s Healthiest Cities

Health is the #1 topic on everyone’s mind as they make New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising regularly are the top three New Year’s resolutions, together accounting for 3/4 of all the goals Americans set on January 1.

At BetterDoctor, we encourage you to use this year to take control of your health. But this may be easier in some locations than in others. Doctor access, doctor quality, recreational opportunities and health insurance options all vary widely from city to city. We crunched the numbers to determine which of the biggest fifty cities are the healthiest—and which have the worse habits and access to care.

We used a data-driven approach to determine the healthiest cities in the United States, creating a 100-point composite index that uses the following three questions to assess health of a city:

1. Are residents fit and healthy? We used the American Fitness Index to assess fitness and general health of the residents. This composite index is comprised of many variables, including exercise rates, eating habits, chronic health problems and disease rates, access to parks and recreational activities and more.

2. Is medical care accessible and high-quality? We included the percentage of doctors in the city that are highly rated according to BetterDoctor’s comprehensive, seven-variable algorithm as well as the number of primary physicians per 100,000 residents.

3. Do residents have health insurance? We included the percentage of residents with health coverage to assess how feasible it is for residents to get medical care.

America’s Healthiest Cities

Rank Metro area AFI score Percentage of the population with health insurance Doctors per 1,000 residents Percentage of doctors who are highly rated on BetterDoctor Overall health score
1 Boston, MA 69.1 95.6% 5.97 2.93% 74.53
2 Minneapolis, MN 73.5 91.8% 4.44 8.77% 73.61
3 Washington, DC 77.3 88.4% 2.75 15.21% 72.57
4 San Francisco, CA 71 88.5% 2.43 14.87% 66.36
5 Hartford, CT 63.8 92.2% 3.91 6.56% 62.69
6 Pittsburgh, PA 54.8 92.1% 5.39 5.28% 60.13
7 San Jose, CA 69.4 88.5% 0.88 14.00% 58.62
8 Salt Lake City, UT 65.7 84.2% 4.17 7.84% 58.51
9 Seattle, WA 69.3 87.2% 2.91 5.87% 57.72
10 Cincinnati, OH 54.5 89.3% 4.10 11.26% 57.62
11 Portland, OR 72.1 86.1% 3.05 2.92% 56.73
12 Denver, CO 71.7 85.3% 2.18 7.72% 56.62
13 Sacramento, CA 66.9 86.2% 2.50 9.50% 56.59
14 Atlanta, GA 56 81.2% 3.97 17.53% 55.93
15 San Diego, CA 69.2 83.2% 1.43 13.84% 55.25
16 Baltimore, MD 50.8 91.2% 4.20 8.97% 55.01
17 Saint Louis, MO 41.3 89.2% 5.96 11.56% 54.66
18 Austin, TX 60.6 81.9% 1.49 20.97% 53.89
19 Raleigh, NC 61.5 85.8% 1.39 14.97% 52.73
20 Providence, RI 51.6 91.2% 3.48 7.10% 51.31
21 Buffalo, NY 47.2 93.3% 2.74 10.63% 50.30
22 Richmond, VA 52.3 87.6% 3.81 5.91% 48.56
23 Chicago, IL 56.6 86.0% 1.61 13.13% 48.41
24 New York, NY 51.5 87.2% 0.60 19.70% 47.67
25 Philadelphia, PA 52.9 90.1% 2.02 4.99% 43.95
26 Milwaukee, WI 45.7 90.5% 2.35 8.73% 43.35
27 Virginia Beach, VA 52 87.9% 0.91 11.78% 42.94
28 Cleveland, OH 45.4 89.3% 2.88 7.09% 42.50
29 Birmingham, AL 35.9 87.7% 4.08 11.68% 42.18
30 Charlotte, NC 48.1 83.8% 1.40 14.33% 40.07
31 Kansas City, MO 45.1 86.9% 1.80 11.70% 39.97
32 Houston, TX 44 76.5% 1.62 24.90% 39.96
33 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 42.6 78.1% 1.40 24.09% 38.89
34 Columbus, OH 41.3 88.3% 1.67 12.35% 38.49
35 Miami, FL 49 74.9% 4.44 8.51% 38.39
36 Tampa, FL 46 82.4% 2.98 8.88% 38.25
37 Orlando, FL 40.8 79.2% 4.19 10.12% 36.76
38 Phoenix, AZ 44 82.6% 1.52 13.57% 35.58
39 Riverside, CA 47.8 80.0% 1.37 13.22% 35.08
40 Detroit, MI 47.3 88.0% 1.92 2.04% 34.71
41 Jacksonville, FL 46.6 84.2% 1.30 9.42% 34.66
42 Los Angeles, CA 53.4 79.2% 0.78 8.99% 32.69
43 New Orleans, LA 42.4 83.4% 2.36 5.05% 30.80
44 Las Vegas, NV 43.7 77.8% 2.13 9.90% 29.75
45 Indianapolis, IN 32.3 86.5% 2.13 9.95% 29.53
46 Nashville, TN 32.5 86.4% 1.69 11.13% 28.97
47 San Antonio, TX 35.6 80.6% 1.14 15.28% 27.33
48 Louisville, KY 25.7 87.3% 1.67 13.14% 26.34
49 Oklahoma City, OK 31.6 82.7% 1.54 11.06% 24.10
50 Memphis, TN 24.8 84.4% 1.16 7.22% 15.76

1. Boston, MA: Boston has the highest percentage of the population with health insurance of any city we analyzed. Programs like Northeastern’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures show that this university town’s colleges contribute to the wellness of Boston’s residents and youth.

2. Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis received a high score on the American Fitness Index, and the city’s widespread healthcare coverage and high doctor-resident ratio helped the city secure the top spot.

3. Washington, DC: DC’s high fitness score, high level of healthcare coverage and large percentage of well-rated doctors earned the city the #2 spot.

4. San Francisco, CA: Known for its farmers’ markets and easy access to hiking, it’s no surprise that San Francisco is home to many health-conscious residents. The city’s high-quality doctors and high fitness score contributed to its top 5 spot.

5. Hartford, CT: 92% of Hartford’s residents have health insurance, and the city has a fairly high doctor-residents ratio.

6. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh has a much higher doctor-resident ratio than most cities, with more than 5 doctors for every 1,000 residents, as well as a high level of healthcare coverage, earning the city a spot in our top ten.

7. San Jose, CA: San Jose has high-quality doctors and a high score on the fitness index, making this one of the healthiest cities on our list.

8. Salt Lake City, UT:  Salt Lake City has widespread health insurance coverage and a fairly high fitness index score.

9. Seattle, WA:  Seattle’s fitness index is quite high, and over 87% of residents have healthcare coverage.

10. Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati has a fairly high fitness score, widespread health coverage, and many quality doctors, pushing the city up to our top ten.

Least Healthy Cities
1. Memphis, TN

2. Oklahoma City, OK

3. Louisville, KY

4. San Antonio, TX

5. Nashville, TN

Data Sources
Data was obtained from the American Fitness Index, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), U.S. Census and our own proprietary data.  We included the 50 largest cities in the United States.

The AFI score was weighted at 40% of the overall score, the percentage of doctors that are highly rated at 20%, the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 residents at 20%, and the percentage of residents with health insurance at 20%.

AFi score and health insurance access were calculated by metro area. Doctor access and ratings were calculated at a city level.

Photo from Flickr // Peter Mooney

Divya Raghavan

Hi! I'm Divya. I lead marketing at BetterDoctor. I'm a Midwesterner, vegetarian and Harvard graduate.

21 thoughts on “America’s Healthiest Cities

  1. Disappointing article. More like a marketing article for doctors. Access to health care does not make you healthy. Lifestyle choices make you healthy.

  2. Life style is a choice, that can be impacted by local foods and customs as well as fair weather that encorages walking and excercise.
    Even though Dalas and Houston scored low on lifestyle, they have the best doctors (if you have insurance).

    1. That’s right………… being able to go to a doctor doesn’t have anything to do with being healthy.

    2. Thanks for your comment. We included doctor access and quality as 30% of the overall score because many Americans have chronic health conditions or need urgent care. If you have a condition such as epilepsy or severe allergies, for example, access to a high-quality doctor is a huge factor in your ability to lead a healthy lifestyle. We weighted healthy habits more highly, at 40% of the overall score.

  3. Boise Idaho is the healthiest city. Lots of organic food and lots of people exercising. This article was blatant propaganda for insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors.

  4. Did you only look at cities or did you include data from the entire metropolitan areas? (Including surrounding suburbs.)

    1. As it says in the article, AFi score and health insurance access were calculated by metro area. Doctor access and ratings were calculated at a city level.

  5. Better Doctors??? Who is this, vegetarians are not really healthier just from being vegetarians. The article is disappointing.

  6. whomever pays for these studies wins. My favorite is the woman nutritionist that says high fructose corn syrup is the same as pure sugar because they both have sixteen calories per teaspoon.don’t kid yourself it is ALL about the money

  7. Why was Honolulu, HI left out? Because it will be the #1? Or it wasn’t even included in the study because you don’t know that Hawaii is part of USA?

    1. Thank you for your comment. As it says in the article, we included the largest 50 cities in the United States, which are the cities included in the American Fitness Index. We are aware that Hawaii is part of the U.S.

  8. Is there a scholarly article that this is connected to? What is some research methodology you followed? Can you forward the in depth research and how it was completed? I would like to see some similar stuff, thanks.

  9. Oklahoma City can’t be healthy with the number of smokers, pop drinkers, fat eaters (Bar B Q and hamburgers) along with the population that is lazy and uneducated

Comments are closed.