Health is wealth and a matter of survival, as demonstrated clearly since the pandemic. Being healthy isn’t always just about knowing what to eat and how to exercise; sometimes, your environment makes healthy living harder than it has to be. In some regions of the U.S., there are few options for healthy restaurants or fresh produce. Unhealthy neighbors and communities have also been proven to influence others’ unhealthy behaviors.
In the name of good health, the team at Innerbody Research has compiled thousands of data points to determine the healthiest and unhealthiest states in the United States. We’ve analyzed data from Google search trends, the Yelp API, and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to gather information on factors like the prevalence of healthy restaurants, access to fitness centers, and smoking rates. Read on to determine the state of least resistance for your health goals.
“Healthiest” may be a subjective term, but the data collection presented for the healthiest states is not. Below are averaged meta rankings for each state based on residents’ Google search trends (both fitness and food-related), the number of healthy locations based on the states’ population, and BRFSS data for smoking and health ratings.
Due to a combination of a dozen health-related factors, California is the number one healthiest state in 2022, with a high metascore of 75.78%. Overall, California even ranked higher than states with lower obesity rates, like Washington and Colorado. This state’s residents were more likely to search for gyms and healthy restaurants and smoke fewer cigarettes. However, California still has the single-worst air quality in the country, which wasn’t a factor in this ranking.
West Virginia came in last at just over 43%. Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Louisiana didn’t fare well either. While we’ll get into the specifics of these states’ (un)healthy habits shortly, the poor health of southern states has been intriguing researchers for quite some time. Residents of the South die premature deaths more often than elsewhere, offer fewer indoor smoking bans than northern areas, and offer much less walkability between venues. Keep reading to see further insight.
Diet is typically considered the most influential factor for overall good health. Let’s look specifically at the number of healthy restaurants and healthy search trends per state and city.
Surprisingly, California doesn’t offer the most healthy restaurants per 10,000 residents. Instead, this title belongs to Oregon, specifically the Portland area, as the city provides 1.82 healthy restaurants for every 10,000 people.
Portland is no stranger to healthy living as it has previously ranked among the top healthiest cities in the U.S. The city offers its residents low-cost medical care, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many hiking trails.
California still fared well as the second-healthiest state from a dietary standpoint. Los Angeles, however, was not within the top 20 healthiest cities for this metric. Instead, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, and Long Beach took the top spots. Even Southern cities like Atlanta, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia, offered more healthy eateries per 10,000 residents than L.A.
After diet and good nutrition, the most heavily influential factor on a person’s health is exercise. To rank all 50 states from most to least fit, this last piece of research assesses the total number of fitness locations per 10,000 residents and the number of searches for health-related topics. We’ve also included the top 20 fittest cities in the U.S.
Once again, California came out on top as the fittest state. It also had eight cities in the top 20 fittest U.S. cities. In particular, Huntington Beach, San Francisco, and Irvine offered a relatively high amount of gyms and fitness centers. Nationwide gym chains like 24-hour fitness, Gold’s Gym, LA Fitness, and CrossFit originated in California.
Interestingly, it wasn’t a Californian city that offered the most fitness locales for its residents. Instead, Honolulu, Hawaii, took this title with almost 17 fitness centers per 10,000 residents. Three cities in sunny Florida also ranked within the top 20 fittest cities: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Miami.
Home to gorgeous beaches and more, Fort Lauderdale also ranked very well when it came to cities with the greatest number of healthy restaurants, scoring second and beating even Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Where you live can have a positive or negative influence on your health. According to our study, the surroundings of California and Colorado are conducive to prioritizing healthy living. Overall, these states were the healthiest locations based on data from Yelp, Google, and the BRFSS. A few Florida cities were also highly ranked as they provided residents with plenty of healthy eating and fitness options.
Depending on your particular health needs and goals, certain health-related filters, like restaurants or gyms, may not matter to you as much as the next person. Instead, you may be delighted to know that even outside of these states, remote telehealth is now available to you anywhere. To find the most up-to-date research and reviews for your various telehealth needs – whether that be testing, products, or speaking to a professional – Innerbody Research is here to support you on your health journey.
We used the Yelp API to find the locations of vegan and vegetarian restaurants and fitness locations. We also used Glimpse to gather Google search trends for searches such as “gyms near me” and “healthy restaurants near me.” Lastly, we collected data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to determine each state’s health factors, like health rating and smoking status.
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