The Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Healthy Eating

By David Cusick

When it comes to eating healthy, we know it can be hard. Let’s face it, sometimes a piece of cake sounds much better than a well-balanced meal. When it comes to achieving your healthy eating goals, where you live could be a factor based on food options and overall lifestyle. 

With that in mind, House Method did the research to find the best cities in the U.S. for healthy eating. To do this we analyzed data for the 100 largest cities and ranked them according to five factors, such as rate of healthy eating, healthy dining options per capita, number of nutritionists or dietitians, and more. Read on for the complete rankings and methodology. 

Main Findings

Best Cities for Healthy Eating

Overall Rank (1 = better)

City, State

Overall Score

Healthy Options Rank

Healthy Living Rank

1

Anaheim, CA

38.17

7

7

2

Scottsdale, AZ

31.08

3

3

3

Jersey City, NJ

30.55

13

13

4

Irving, TX

29.6

6

6

5

Santa Ana, CA

28.36

4

4

6

Irvine, CA

26.52

40

40

7

Garland, TX

26.27

16

16

8

Gilbert, AZ

26.02

24

24

9

Chandler, AZ

24.25

8

8

10

Glendale, AZ

23.54

53

53

11

Mesa, AZ

23.09

17

17

12

Chula Vista, CA

23.04

34

34

13

El Paso, TX

22.69

1

1

14

Boise, ID

22.5

5

5

15

Plano, TX

22.38

31

31

16

Madison, WI

22.28

15

15

17

Riverside, CA

22.23

48

48

18

Orlando, FL

22.09

22

22

19

Houston, TX

21.75

9

9

20

Laredo, TX

21.75

10

10

21

Henderson, NV

21.55

2

2

22

Dallas, TX

21.5

32

32

23

Aurora, CO

21.2

41

41

24

Nashville, TN

21.13

61

61

25

Durham, NC

21.1

52

52

26

Cincinnati, OH

20.97

21

21

27

Lexington, KY

20.62

12

12

28

Richmond, VA

20.41

28

28

29

Long Beach, CA

20.32

47

47

30

St. Petersburg, FL

20.28

42

42

31

Atlanta, GA

20.17

72

72

32

Chesapeake, VA

19.59

20

20

33

North Las Vegas, NV

19.52

11

11

34

Hialeah, FL

19.44

66

66

35

Denver, CO

19.41

65

65

36

Tampa, FL

19.34

62

62

37

Albuquerque, NM

19.17

14

14

38

Winston–Salem, NC

19.16

56

56

39

Memphis, TN

19.13

27

27

40

Greensboro, NC

19.11

55

55

41

Minneapolis, MN

19.07

46

46

42

Cleveland, OH

18.74

30

30

43

Phoenix, AZ

18.57

38

38

44

Fort Worth, TX

18.4

26

26

45

San Jose, CA

18.38

81

81

46

Wichita, KS

18.36

29

29

47

Austin, TX

18.3

67

67

48

Charlotte, NC

18.16

33

33

49

Milwaukee, WI

17.89

37

37

50

San Diego, CA

17.88

68

68

51

Sacramento, CA

17.79

74

74

52

Newark, NJ

17.69

57

57

53

Miami, FL

17.66

73

73

54

Louisville, KY

17.62

23

23

55

Pittsburgh, PA

17.58

58

58

56

Las Vegas, NV

17.56

18

18

57

Lincoln, NE

17.55

43

43

58

Saint Paul, MN

17.54

63

63

59

Portland, OR

17.35

84

84

60

Baton Rouge, LA

17.34

60

60

61

Virginia Beach, VA

17.31

71

71

62

Buffalo, NY

17.24

64

64

63

Tucson, AZ

17.22

44

44

64

San Antonio, TX

17.03

49

49

65

Kansas City, MO

16.72

45

45

66

Detroit, MI

16.71

35

35

67

Fort Wayne, IN

16.59

54

54

68

Indianapolis, IN

16.58

59

59

69

Baltimore, MD

16.56

76

76

70

Oklahoma City, OK

16.37

25

25

71

Fremont, CA

16.25

89

89

72

Norfolk, VA

16.24

69

69

73

Omaha, NE

16.21

50

50

74

Colorado Springs, CO

16.1

83

83

75

Tulsa, OK

15.99

36

36

76

Corpus Christi, TX

15.93

39

39

77

Raleigh, NC

15.8

87

87

78

Washington, DC

15.69

98

98

79

Lubbock, TX

15.56

19

19

80

Toledo, OH

15.51

51

51

81

Chicago, IL

15.34

80

80

82

Seattle, WA

15.34

92

92

83

Fresno, CA

15.22

77

77

84

Los Angeles, CA

15.1

82

82

85

Reno, NV

14.93

85

85

86

Oakland, CA

14.76

95

95

87

Columbus, OH

14.29

70

70

88

Arlington, TX

14.25

79

79

89

St. Louis, MO

13.46

78

78

90

Stockton, CA

13.2

86

86

91

Bakersfield, CA

13.17

75

75

92

Spokane, WA

13.03

88

88

93

Jacksonville, FL

12.53

93

93

94

Philadelphia, PA

11.77

90

90

95

San Francisco, CA

11.47

96

96

96

Honolulu, HI

10.26

99

99

97

Anchorage, AK

9.89

97

97

98

Boston, MA

9.76

94

94

99

New Orleans, LA

9.11

91

91

100

New York, NY

5.01

100

100

Summary

Our research found that Anaheim, California. is the best city overall for healthy eating. Anaheim scored high for the rate of healthy eating, meaning that the people in that city like making healthy choices. They also had the top score the number of healthy dining options. Falling not far behind Anaheim and rounding out the top five cities are Scottsdale, Arizona, Jersey City, New Jersey, Irving, CA, and Santa Ana, CA. 

At the opposite end of the rankings is New York City, New York, which might come as a surprise for a lot of people. The city scored low for the number of healthy dining options and farmers markets per capita, which pushed New Yorkers down to the bottom spot. The other cities that make up the bottom five are Honolulu, Hawaii,  Anchorage, Alaska, Boston, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Louisiana. Perhaps those cities like to have their cake and eat it too. 

Making healthier choices doesn’t have to be hard. If you live in a city that has healthy restaurant options, choose that over something that is more indulgent or make a weekend activity out of going to the farmers markets and meal prepping.

Methodology

To find the best and worst cities for healthy eating, we analyzed data for the 100 largest cities in the United States. We ranked the cities using two categories:

  1. Healthy food options
  2. Healthy living

In all, there were five factors across those two larger categories that are listed below along with their corresponding weights. Each city was graded on an 50-point scale, with a score of 50 representing the ideal city for healthy eating.

Finally, we calculated each city’s weighted average across all categories to determine its Overall Score and used the results to rank-order our sample.

Healthy food options — 30 points

  • Healthy dining options per 1,000 people — Half Weight
  • Farmers markets per 10,000 people — Half Weight
  • Cost of groceries – Double Weight

Healthy living — 20 points

  • Percent of population which eats healthy — Full Weight
  • Dietitians and Nutritionists per 10,000 people — Full Weight

Sources

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