WalletHub wrote an article in February 2019 named Healthiest and Unhealthiest Cities in America. They looked at some of the most populated cities in America and scored them based on the cost of medical visits, fruit and vegetable consumption, and fitness and recreational areas per capita. From those scores, the cities were given a total score out of 100 and ranked based upon that score. Out of 174 cities included in the final research, Buffalo, NY was ranked at 91.
Out of four different categories: Health Care, Food, Fitness, and Green Space (all equivalent to 25 points), there were different subcategories with different weights. Buffalo’s overall score was a 45.80 out of 100 (it is important to note that the research does not include surrounding metro areas), with it ranking the best in the Healthcare category at 63.
You might be wondering, where did Buffalo rank the worst? The answer is in Fitness, ranking at spot 128 out of 174. In Food, the city ranked 76 and Green Space, 68.
Experts weighed in on the topic to add their opinion about what people can do to live healthier lives, and how local authorities can help ensure there are healthier options for people. Some of their answers include:
“To truly invest in healthy, wealthy adults over the long term, we need to do a better job distributing educational resources and opportunities across all communities, so that all kids, no matter what neighborhood they live in, can have access to safe schools, high quality education, and plenty of opportunities for physical activity.” ~Signe Peterson Flieger, Ph.D., MSW – Assistant Professor, Tufts Health Plan Professor of Health Care Policy Research, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Co-Director, Center for Health Systems and Policy, Tufts University School of Medicine.
“…limit eating out, to get outside, and to enlist the help of your family and friends.”
“Local authorities can certainly make cities healthier spaces. Everything from public parks and affordable farmers’ markets, to well-lit and safe walkways, playgrounds, and well-designed urban and suburban spaces can make spending time outside, exercising, and even healthy cooking more appealing.
~Kristin Hocevar, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Southern Oregon University
“They [local authorities] also can offer neighborhood stores financial incentives to sell produce from local farms.”
~Y. Tony Yang, Professor, Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, George Washington University School of Nursing, and Department of Health Policy and Management, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
Overall, if Buffalo made small changes, it can have a big impact. Providing produce options that people can afford more easily, having kids play outside during recess, as well as finding ways to provide affordable health care for people are just some changes that can be made.
On a more individual level, experts suggest less screen time and more outdoor time, getting your flu shot annually, not smoking or vaping, buying produce from local farmer’s markets and eating less fast food.
Already, there are so many options around Buffalo to help live a healthier lifestyle. Besides your traditional gyms, Canalside hosts fitness classes throughout the week and weekends (check out their schedule), and there are a lot of trails and walking paths open for public use. Take a walk through one Buffalo’s many parks, including Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Glen Park, Niagara Falls State Park, or Knox Farm State Park, just to name a few. Occasionally there are also fitness expos or wellness expos where you can go and learn about different ways to live a healthier life style. And if you keep an eye out, there are always schedule events going on throughout the city to promote healthy living, including 5ks, walks, classes, etc. Buffalo has a lot to offer and these events and activities are generally free to the public.
In general, turning small healthy changes into habits can change the overall health of a person. It is ultimately up to individuals to change their lifestyle to live healthier, and for local government to support a healthier lifestyle within the cities.