You can find any number of studies that show which American cities have the healthiest residents. ThinkAdvisor highlighted one such study last year.
In a recent report, ValuePenguin, a LendingTree company, took a different approach, examining how well cities are set up to assist and accommodate residents in starting or continuing to have healthy lifestyles.
For its study, ValuePenguin sought to identify the cities best and worst equipped for healthy lifestyles. It noted in a statement that data limitations forced analysts to restrict the ranking to 98 population centers, with western cities somewhat overrepresented and smaller ones, especially in the East, underrepresented.
To determine the overall ranking of the 98 cities, analysts looked at four criteria. They gave the greatest weight to per-capita access to eight amenities, from the number of gyms and sporting goods stores to the number of playgrounds in each city.
Their next most-important consideration was quality and access to healthy food options available to residents. They also looked at the grocery cost of living for each city, as well as which cities allowed those residents on government assistance programs to access higher quality, healthy food options.
Environmental factors followed, including air and drinking-water quality.
Finally, they examined the health and habits of each city’s residents. The report said that data points for this section all came from states, but that they still helped to paint an accurate picture of the cities studied.
A couple of things stood out in the analysis. Even acknowledging the overrepresentation of western cities in the grouping, the West as a whole ranked very well.
In addition, the Midwest fell down on food. Twenty-two of the 24 worst-ranked cities for healthy food proximity were in the Midwest.
See the gallery for the 15 most health-conscious cities in the U.S.