These 2 U.S. Cities Were Just Named Among the Unhealthiest on the Planet

Only two cities fared worse on the list of least healthy cities in the world.

There are many factors that come into play when choosing where to put down roots: professional opportunity, family ties, and cost of living, to name just a few. But beyond those more traditional considerations is one that's a bit harder to quantify, yet tells you a lot about a city: its health index. Unfortunately, you might not like what you learn.

A new Healthy Lifestyle Cities Report scored 44 international cities across 10 healthy living metrics and found that two popular American cities recently received a failing grade: Washington D.C. and New York City. Read on to learn why these cities ranked near last, and for more insights from around the country, check out  This Is the Most Dangerous State in America.

First, let's set the record straight, in defense of two of our nation's great cities: the survey assessed just six major metropolitan areas in America, sparing plenty of cities from consideration. And while the list was somewhat comprehensive in its metrics for evaluation—including life expectancy, pollution rates, average hours worked, hours of sunshine, obesity rates, and self-reported happiness—there were important metrics left out, such as rate of chronic health conditions, cost of healthcare, as well as air and water quality.

That being said, the list does serve to highlight some areas where Washington D.C. and New York fall short when it comes to health and wellness. Ranked 41st and 42nd out of 44 cities around the world, respectively, there's certainly room for growth.

While New York City fared better for having more outdoor activities, it also had higher rates of pollution and more than four times the number of takeout restaurants compared with Washington, D.C. Both had astronomical pricing for a monthly gym membership—$91 and $92.50 for New York and D.C., respectively.

Meanwhile, the healthier end of the list was populated almost entirely with European cities, with one Australian city cracking the top five: Amsterdam, Sydney, Vienna, Stockholm, and Copenhagen made up the top five spots for their clean air, low obesity rates, high self-reported happiness, and more. Wondering how other U.S. cities fared in the rankings? Read on to discover which American city was the healthiest, and to find out which state you might be better off avoiding, This Is the Most Hateful State in America.

San Francisco

san francisco bridge and city skyline

Rank: 34

Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,062

Pollution Index: 47.36

Takeout Restaurants: 1,031

And for the latest news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.


the downtown area and bean in Chicago, Illinois

Rank: 30

Annual Hours of Sunshine: 2,508

Pollution Index: 43.33

Takeout Restaurants: 1,320


cityscape photos of buildings and shops in Quincy Market in Boston, Massachusetts at twilight

Rank: 27

Annual Hours of Sunshine: 2,634

Pollution Index: 27.03

Takeout Restaurants: 588

And for more shocking insights about our nation's cities, check out This Is the Most Hated City in America.

Los Angeles

los angeles california skyline

Rank: 25

Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,254

Pollution Index: 66.07

Takeout Restaurants: 1,439

And for more cities that earn poor health grades, This Is the Most Out-Of-Shape City in the U.S.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under