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, StateOverall ScoreHealthy Options RankHealthy Living Rank
1Anaheim, CA38.1777
2Scottsdale, AZ31.0833
3Jersey City, NJ30.551313
4Irving, TX29.666
5Santa Ana, CA28.3644
6Irvine, CA26.524040
7Garland, TX26.271616
8Gilbert, AZ26.022424
9Chandler, AZ24.2588
10Glendale, AZ23.545353
11Mesa, AZ23.091717
12Chula Vista, CA23.043434
13El Paso, TX22.6911
14Boise, ID22.555
15Plano, TX22.383131
16Madison, WI22.281515
17Riverside, CA22.234848
18Orlando, FL22.092222
19Houston, TX21.7599
20Laredo, TX21.751010
21Henderson, NV21.5522
22Dallas, TX21.53232
23Aurora, CO21.24141
24Nashville, TN21.136161
25Durham, NC21.15252
26Cincinnati, OH20.972121
27Lexington, KY20.621212
28Richmond, VA20.412828
29Long Beach, CA20.324747
30St. Petersburg, FL20.284242
31Atlanta, GA20.177272
32Chesapeake, VA19.592020
33North Las Vegas, NV19.521111
34Hialeah, FL19.446666
35Denver, CO19.416565
36Tampa, FL19.346262
37Albuquerque, NM19.171414
38Winston–Salem, NC19.165656
39Memphis, TN19.132727
40Greensboro, NC19.115555
41Minneapolis, MN19.074646
42Cleveland, OH18.743030
43Phoenix, AZ18.573838
44Fort Worth, TX18.42626
45San Jose, CA18.388181
46Wichita, KS18.362929
47Austin, TX18.36767
48Charlotte, NC18.163333
49Milwaukee, WI17.893737
50San Diego, CA17.886868
51Sacramento, CA17.797474
52Newark, NJ17.695757
53Miami, FL17.667373
54Louisville, KY17.622323
55Pittsburgh, PA17.585858
56Las Vegas, NV17.561818
57Lincoln, NE17.554343
58Saint Paul, MN17.546363
59Portland, OR17.358484
60Baton Rouge, LA17.346060
61Virginia Beach, VA17.317171
62Buffalo, NY17.246464
63Tucson, AZ17.224444
64San Antonio, TX17.034949
65Kansas City, MO16.724545
66Detroit, MI16.713535
67Fort Wayne, IN16.595454
68Indianapolis, IN16.585959
69Baltimore, MD16.567676
70Oklahoma City, OK16.372525
71Fremont, CA16.258989
72Norfolk, VA16.246969
73Omaha, NE16.215050
74Colorado Springs, CO16.18383
75Tulsa, OK15.993636
76Corpus Christi, TX15.933939
77Raleigh, NC15.88787
78Washington, DC15.699898
79Lubbock, TX15.561919
80Toledo, OH15.515151
81Chicago, IL15.348080
82Seattle, WA15.349292
83Fresno, CA15.227777
84Los Angeles, CA15.18282
85Reno, NV14.938585
86Oakland, CA14.769595
87Columbus, OH14.297070
88Arlington, TX14.257979
89St. Louis, MO13.467878
90Stockton, CA13.28686
91Bakersfield, CA13.177575
92Spokane, WA13.038888
93Jacksonville, FL12.539393
94Philadelphia, PA11.779090
95San Francisco, CA11.479696
96Honolulu, HI10.269999
97Anchorage, AK9.899797
98Boston, MA9.769494
99New Orleans, LA9.119191
100New York, NY5.01100100

Summary

Our research found that Anaheim, Ca. 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, AZ, Jersey City, NJ, Irving, CA, and Santa Ana, CA. 

At the opposite end of the rankings is New York City, 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, Anchorage, Boston, and New Orleans. Perhaps those cities like to have their cake and eat it too. 

Read more: Building Wellness into Building: Improving the Livability of Homes

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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