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NYC loses, San Francisco wins big in 2024 ranking of healthiest cities

Talk about the Big Apple.

A whopping 60% of New Yorkers are either overweight or obese — a sad statistic that weighed Gotham down considerably in a new ranking of America’s healthiest cities.

The city that never sleeps huffed and puffed its way onto the list at No. 18 overall, out of 182 US burgs.

New York City sank abysmally low in the fitness category, despite ranking at No. 18 overall. Getty Images

The overall positioning was determined by the quality of healthcare, food, green space and — crucially — the fitness of the population. That leaves NYC lagging behind the likes of Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; and image-conscious Los Angeles.

New York’s fitness score — No. 117 out of 182 — may have been a major downer, but we might have a pretty good excuse: As home to some of the world’s best restaurants, the city ranked No. 2 in the food category, meaning we are second to only one city when it comes to access to quality and healthy eats.

“Staying healthy is a personal responsibility, and everyone should strive to eat nutritious food, exercise regularly and look after their mental health,” Cassandra Happe, an analyst for WalletHub, which conducted the survey, said in a written statement.

“However, where people live can have a big influence on how successful they are at staying in good health, so the best cities are the ones that provide the greatest access to high-quality healthcare, green spaces, recreation centers, and healthy food.”

WalletHub analysts used evaluating metrics like mental and physical health, cost of healthcare and medication, doctors and gourmet grocers per capita, gyms and membership costs and the availability of green space to determine America’s healthiest — and unhealthiest — cities.

For the best — and the worst — of the list, read on.

The healthiest cities in America in 2024

Despite its reputation as a crime-riddled city, San Francisco topped the list of healthiest towns in the US. Cla78 –

You can’t keep a good city down.

San Francisco — a town famously troubled with crime and inequality, post-COVID — was crowned the “healthiest,” primarily due to the low number of obese adults in the area, measuring in at about 19% of the city’s population.

According to the report, the City by The Bay is also home to “the second-lowest share of people who eat less than one serving of fruits or vegetables per day.”

Better yet, the entire population is near a location where they can exercise — not to mention the sheer number of health-conscious restaurants per capita, many of which have plant-based and gluten-free options.

Seattle, Washington, fell in the top three. AP

“The Golden Gate City spends more per capita on parks and recreation than other major cities, allowing people to enjoy well-maintained nature and physical activity, and it’s also one of the most walkable and most bikeable cities,” the report reads.

Coming it at second place was equally pricey Honolulu, Hawaii. Analysts listed good mental health, insurance coverage, outdoor spaces and the high number of farmers markets as reasons for its impressive ranking.

In third is Seattle, Washington — the Pacific Northwest city infamous for its gloomy weather had one of the highest physical activity rates, according to the report.

Coupled with the dedication to parks and recreation, as well as being one of the “greenest cities” in the US, the Emerald City is a haven for health nuts who tend to search for health-related dinner recipes and grocers in the area.

Sunny San Diego took No. 4, Washington, D.C. No. 5, Portland, Ore. No. 6, Denver No. 7, Salt Lake City No. 8, Scottsdale, Ariz. No. 9 and Irvine, Calif., No. 10.

The unhealthiest cities in America

Brownsville, Texas, ranked as the “unhealthiest” in the country, a title it has earned multiple years in a row. Alamy Stock Photo

The cities that faltered and fell to the very bottom of the ranking were Laredo, Texas, Gulfport, Mississippi and Brownsville, Texas, at dead last.

Brownsville, which hugs the border between Texas and Mexico, was named the unhealthiest city in America for another year, ranking last or nearly last in all four categories. The Rio Grande-adjacent town, opposite Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and home to nearly 190,000 residents, has historically been one of the poorest in the nation, with approximately 26% of the population falling below the federal poverty line.

While costs of medical bills ranked as some of the lowest in the cities analyzed, Brownsville had some of the lowest number of physically active residents, as well as dietitians and nutritionists per capita.

When the city earned the title of “unhealthiest” back in 2020, Brownsville’s public health director Dr. Arturo Rodriguez told local news outlet Valley Central the he didn’t “agree with the ranking and calling it the unhealthiest.”

“A lot of the proactive trails and bike lanes have led to a higher level of physical activity in the community, the gym’s are full every night,” he said at the time. “I would challenge that with come and take a look at Brownsville versus putting out some metrics.”

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