0839 GMT January 23, 2019
Researchers evaluated cities across 34 key indicators of good health in four categories: health care, food, fitness and green space. In the first category, the researchers looked at issues including premature-death rate, family doctors per capita and the quality of the public hospital system, crunching government data from the US Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For food, they looked at the number of farmers markets, the obesity rate and number of dietitians per capita, among other indicators. For its green-space metric, the study evaluated parkland acres, hiking trails and bike lanes per capita, marketwatch.com reported.
San Francisco was deemed the healthiest city in the country, ranking best in food and No. 3 in green spaces, bike lanes, trails and parks. Salt Lake City was No. 2, followed by Scottsdale, Ariz.; Seattle; and Portland, Ore. Good health can be difficult to maintain with the rising cost of care in the US and uneven standards for health education in public schools, the researchers noted. But low-income residents are also more likely to live longer in wealthier and healthier cities with higher levels of government expenditure per resident on services including hospitals, schools, roads and other services, a separate study published last year in the Journal of American Medical Association found.
The least and most healthy cities in the report also have vastly different costs of living. The median home price in San Francisco is $1.1 million, compared with $37,600 in Detroit, according to real-estate website Zillow. You need to make more than $216,000 to affordably rent a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, a city that is surrounded by water on three sides and covers just 46.9 square miles, as MarketWatch social media editor Sally French noted: “Nationwide, there’s been a shift toward urban living, creating more demand for homes in the country’s most desirable cities.” After filing America’s largest municipal bankruptcy in 2013, Detroit has been struggling to recover beyond the burgeoning downtown district, as the Wall Street Journal reported last week, based on poverty, income disparities, unemployment, home prices and vacancies, and crime.
Another factor impacting the health of cities’ residents: The bigger the metropolitan area, the more the wealth inequality. Inequality between the wealthiest and poorest American neighborhoods increases most substantially in the largest commuting zones, according to a new report by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan policy group. (Commuter zones are defined by the Census Bureau as urban areas where people work and live.) “High wealth and income in big commuting zones do not trickle down,” according to Rolf Pendall, director at the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center and lead author of that report.