Newton, Massachusetts, is the wellbeing capital of the United States, outranking other 561 cities and towns across the US. It scored top marks in seven of the 34 analyzed categories, including health insurance and lack of heart, kidney and pulmonary diseases. Sunnyvale, CA, Bellevue, WA, and Cambridge, MA, are the next best places in the US for wellbeing.
At state level, Vermont ranked first, followed by Hawaii and Massachusetts. Youngstown, Ohio, ranked worst in the 2023 Wellbeing Index, with Ohio also ranking last as a state. Worrying data suggests that around one in three US residents in metro areas is likely obese, or has high blood pressure and/or does not sleep enough at night.
Other key findings:
- Top 3 most alarming wellbeing factors in the US are obesity, affecting 34.95%, sleeping less than seven hours a night (34.9%), and high blood pressure (31.9%)
- Among those with high blood pressure, 3 in 5 do not take medicine to control it.
- Places with middle-income workers sleep better.
- 3 in 5 avoid visiting dental clinics at least once a year.
This is according to a new study by health information website The Great Green Wall Health, which analyzed the data across 562 cities and towns that are part of metropolitan areas. The study ranked each of them against 34 factors, grouped under three pillars that constitute wellbeing: health, happiness and prosperity. The researchers sourced the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Census Bureau, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the US Department of Health, dating from 2016 to 2023.
The best and worst:
- Worst sleepers – Flint (MI), best sleepers – South Burlington (VT)
- Highest rates of depression – Longview (WA), lowest rates of depression – Sunnyvale (CA)
- Highest rates of obesity – Saginaw (MI), lowest rates of obesity – Boulder (CO)
- Most smokers – Warren (OH), least smokers – Sunnyvale (CA)
- Worst teeth – Camden (NJ), best teeth – Sunnyvale (CA), Bellevue (WA)
The Great Green Wall study concluded that Newton, MA, is the best place for wellbeing in the US. People who live in this Boston suburb have the lowest level of stroke occurrences in the United States – 1.7%. Only 2% of adults living here have a chronic disease, 3.1% - a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 3.8% - a coronary heart disease. 95.7% of Newton, MA, residents have health insurance.
Inching right behind it as the second-best place for wellbeing in the US is Sunnyvale, CA, which can pride itself on the lowest levels of smoking (7%) and of arthritis (15.1%) in the United States. With every seven in ten residents visiting their dentist at least once a year, this Silicon Valley hub has the best smiles in the country, where 94.5% of those aged 65 and over still retain all or part of their original set of teeth. Sunnyvale shares this spot with Bellevue, WA, which ranks third best in the country for overall wellbeing.
At the opposite extremity of the Wellbeing Index is Youngstown, OH. The former steel production hub is constantly in the bottom 10 for many wellbeing indicators, such as asthma (12.8%); smoking (31.8%); heart (8.5%), lung (11.9%) and kidney (4.3%) diseases; stroke (5.4%); diabetes (17.6%); insufficient sleep (44.7%); and poor mental health (19.8%). 40.2% of Youngstown, OH, residents do not spend any of their spare time working out and 44.2% are obese.
Almost a decade after the water contamination crisis erupted in Flint, Michigan, the city’s extremely poor health indicators place it in the second-worst position in the US for wellbeing. An alarming number of people are asthmatic (14.6%) and every tenth person in Flint, MI, suffers from a chronic pulmonary disease. More than half the Flint population is obese, outranked only by fellow Michigan city – Saginaw.
Top wellbeing concerns in the US
The top three most alarming factors affecting most US residents are obesity, which affects 34.95% of the evaluated population, sleeping less than seven hours a night (34.9%), and high blood pressure (31.9%). Preventive measures are also lagging, with around three in five not taking medicine for high blood pressure among those affected, and just as many avoiding dental clinics.
A spokesperson for the Great Green Wall commented on their findings: “The most difficult aspect to evaluate is probably happiness since it is largely self-declared and the numbers might be much higher than reported. We do, however, notice that places where people work out in their spare time, even just a little, report a better mental health state, for example.
“Much to our surprise, we also discovered that the places where people sleep best are those with middle incomes and low obesity. Places where many sleep at least seven hours a day also rank well for kidney health and have good teeth.”
The study was commissioned by The Great Green Wall Health – a Philadelphia-based health information website dedicated to combating unhealthy habits through education.
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