Provo, Utah, has the highest level of well-being of any city in the United States as communities in the West continue to be some of the best places in the country to live. While Provo — also the most religious city in the U.S., which boosts its high levels of well-being levels as religious Americans tend to be healthier — topped the list, the border-spanning Huntington-Ashland metro area of Kentucky and Ohio has the lowest levels of well-being.
The Gallup and Healthways survey looked at 189 cities and conducted more than 500,000 interviews to determine the Well Being Index for the country's major metro areas. Gallup used six categories to define “well-being” in the U.S., which were then scored out of 100: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. According to USA Today, this year's survey is the second time in the six years that Provo has taken the top spot.
Provo's composite score is 71.4 percent, while Huntington's is 59.5 percent, and other top cities include Boulder, Colo., Fort Collins, Colo., and Honolulu. Gallup has consistently found that well-being is generally higher in the Western and Midwestern U.S. of than in the South. West Virginia in particular can't seem to catch a break, and has lagged by all other states in terms of well-being for five years.
"It's some strong validation for what we already know here in Provo," the city's Mayor John Curtis, told USA Today, adding that the city has also been called the "most optimistic" and "nicest” in other surveys. On the other end of the scale in Huntington, Mayor Steve Williams says that the city’s high obesity rates and limited access to healthy, fresh foods has been a “motivator” for the them to see how they can change.
Huntington has the highest obesity rate at 40 percent, according to the survey, compared to the lowest rate of just over 12 percent in Boulder, Colo. Charleston, West Virginia, also has the highest smoking rate in the country, at 34 percent, and the lowest job satisfaction, at 81 percent. Poughkeepsie, N.Y., follows very closely behind with a population almost equally dissatisfied with their jobs at 81.4 percent.
As 80 percent of Americans live in urban or suburban areas, cities and their institutions, whether it be government, faith-based or community groups, play a “significant” role is leading the way for well-being, Gallup says. Some of the best ways to maintain a healthy community includes learning new and interesting things, frequent trips to the dentists, and smoking cessation, the organization says.
Here are the top 10 cities for overall well-being in the U.S.:
1. Provo-Orem, Utah
2. Boulder, Colo.
3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
7. Naples-Marco Island, Fla.
8. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.
9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
10. Lincoln, Neb.
And here are the bottom 10 cities for well-being:
180. Evansville, Ind.-Ky.
181. Mobile, Ala.
182. Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
183. Columbus, Ga., Ala.
184. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
185. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C.
186. Spartanburg, S.C.
187. Redding, Calif.
188. Charleston, W.Va.
189. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio