Despite Salt Lake City’s love for fry sauce and dirty sodas, the capital of the Beehive State was ranked the fifth healthiest city in the U.S. in 2023, according to a report from WalletHub.
Based on a point system ranking the major U.S. cities on their health care, food and green space, Salt Lake City ranked high on the list, and has consistently for a few years. According to USA Today, Salt Lake City sat at No. 5 on the same list last year, and according to a different report, Salt Lake was ranked the healthiest city in the country in 2018.
An extensive list of the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the nation is included below.
What makes Salt Lake so healthy?
WalletHub reports that Salt Lake City’s health care fares well against other cities, ranking Salt Lake and West Valley City tied at No. 5 for the most dietitians and nutritionists per capita. Salt Lake ranked higher than the national average in mental health counselors per capita, and placed No. 7 for quality of public health systems and No. 8 for cost of basic medicine.
Salt Lake’s proximity to thousands of acres of wilderness and plentiful options for indoor and outdoor recreation are some of the many factors that make the city healthy. Salt Lake ranked 7th in the nation for hiking trails per capita — this is no surprise, as there are dozens of hikes just miles from downtown Salt Lake City, and according to AllTrails, there are around 193 trails in the greater Salt Lake City area.
Salt Lakers seem to be keeping physically active at a higher rate than other cities. Salt Lake ranks higher than the national average in number of physically active adults (28th in the nation), and number of fitness centers per capita (4th in the nation), and fitness instructors per capita (17th in the nation). Though we have our fair share of unhealthy food, Salt Lake has more healthy (22nd in the nation) and gourmet (7th in the nation) restaurant options than much of the country, according to WalletHub’s data.
How does the rest of the country rank?
Salt Lake City was beaten out by West Coast cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu and San Diego, respectively. According to WalletHub, Western cities seem to fare better in health scores than Midwestern and Southern cities.
“People living in many areas in the south are twice as likely to be smokers and be sedentary than people living in Utah,” Texas A&M Today reported. Every Southern state, with the exception of Florida, has an obesity rate of over 30%, leading to high injury and illness rates, and lower life expectancy.
However, Texas A&M states that there are social causes that can make it more difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. Southern households on average have lower incomes than the rest of the country, and in many of these states, access to quality and affordable public health care isn’t as good as in Western and Northeastern states.
Methodology: WalletHub compiled its list of the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the country by weighing 182 U.S. cities against metrics including healthy food options, physical activity, public health systems and access to green and recreation spaces.
Researchers at WalletHub compiled this report by analyzing data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor, local county health statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more.
Healthiest cities in the U.S.
- San Francisco, California.
- Seattle, Washington.
- Honolulu, Hawaii.
- San Diego, California.
- Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Portland, Oregon.
- Washington, D.C.
- Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Denver, Colorado.
- Irvine, California.
- Boston, Massachusetts.
- Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Atlanta, Georgia.
- Austin, Texas.
- Portland, Maine.
Unhealthiest cities in the U.S.
- Brownsville, Texas.
- Gulfport, Mississippi.
- Shreveport, Louisiana.
- Columbus, Georgia.
- Augustus, Georgia.
- Montgomery, Alabama.
- Memphis, Tennessee.
- Fayetteville, North Carolina.
- Laredo, Texas.
- Corpus Christi, Texas.
- Detroit, Michigan.
- Fort Smith, Arkansas.
- North Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Charleston, West Virginia.
- Huntington, West Virginia.