15 most health-conscious cities in the United States

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You can find a number of studies that show which US cities have the healthiest residents. ThinkAdvisor has highlighted one of these to study Last year.

In a recent report, ValuePenguin, a LendingTree company, took a different approach, examining the extent to which cities are being set up to help and welcome residents to start or continue living healthy lifestyles.

For its study, ValuePenguin sought to identify the best and least equipped cities for a healthy lifestyle. He noted in a statement that data limitations forced analysts to narrow the ranking to 98 population centers, with western cities being somewhat over-represented and smaller ones, especially in the east, under-represented.

To determine the overall ranking of the 98 cities, analysts looked at four criteria. They placed the greatest weight on per capita access to eight amenities, from the number of gyms and sporting goods stores to the number of playgrounds in each city.

Their second most important consideration was the quality and access to healthy food options available to residents. They also looked at the cost of living in grocery shopping for each city, as well as which cities have provided residents on government assistance programs with access to healthier and better food options.

Environmental factors followed, including the quality of the air and drinking water.

Finally, they examined the health and habits of the inhabitants of each city. The report said the data points for this section were all from states, but still helped paint an accurate picture of the cities studied.

A few elements emerge from the analysis. Even acknowledging the overrepresentation of Western cities in the cluster, the West as a whole ranked very well.

Plus, the Midwest has fallen for food. Twenty-two of the 24 lowest-ranked cities for proximity to healthy food were all in the Midwest.

View the gallery of the 15 most health conscious cities in the United States

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