U.S. Healthiest And Unhealthiest Cities: It's The Economy

Eating Fat

Huntington, West Virginia has been named by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as the unhealthiest city in America. Nearly half of the adults in the five-county metropolitan area are obese and Huntington leads in heart disease, diabetes and elderly people who have lost their teeth. Contrast that with Burlington, Vermont, the nations healthiest city. What’s the difference? It all boils down to money and education.

First let’s look at Huntington. Its poverty rate is worse than the national average. It is a blue-collar white skinned community – people of English, Irish and German ancestry. Over the last few decades the manufacturing jobs have left the area and the remaining jobs are low paying. The largest employers are the hospitals and Marshall University.

Contrast that with Burlington. Only 8% live at the federal poverty level, compared to 19% in Huntington. Nearly 40% of residents have a college degree, compared with 15% in Huntington.


In Burlington, healthy eating is popular. Vegan options are plentiful and even low-income residents have the choice of bulk rice and grains and vegetables at local markets. In Huntington, donut shops abound and Pizza, KFC and fast food offer the best bargains to poor residents.

In Burlington people ride bikes, hike, ski and garden. Huntington has few parks and even on sunny days, residents are not out and about. The rural roads are busy and there are few sidewalks.

Huntington allows smoking in restaurants and local bars and even the hospitals have not been effective in forbidding smoking. Huntington’s culture is one of “you’re not going to tell me what I can or cannot eat” and the fact that poor eating, lack of exercise and smoking causes medical problems does not seem spur change.

Huntington officials are striking back and saying that the CDC report doesn’t exactly “mention” their area by name but includes a larger square mile area, of which they are just a portion. Despite the excuses by the city officials, a local physician, Dr. John Walden who is chair of family and community health at Marshall University says,

"I don't know that I've ever been in a place where I've seen so many overweight people.”



I've been looking and searching but I can't find the complete list of all citeis in the U.S. Like to know where my community sits..
Unfortunately, though this region may currently have the highest prevalence, diabetes is epidemic in the U.S. and much of the developed world. Few know enough about its complications to find sufficient motivation for a prevention-oriented lifestyle. Gum disease, considered the sixth complication of elevated blood sugar, is by itself a serious issue but its bidirectional relationship with diabetes worsens both conditions and contributes to significant increases in several other health risks. - Charles Martin, DDS Founder, Dentistry For Diabetics
...and I was raised there, as well. My great-grandmother had diabetes, my grandmother had diabetes, my father has diabetes, and my entire family is grossly overweight and has terrible dental problems. I thank my lucky stars I was able to educate myself so I wouldn't follow in their footsteps. Yes, the economy has much to do with it. But it's also psychological. After decades of struggling to get by, the sudden convenience of donuts, pizza, hot dogs and KFC make them feel as if they're getting a treat, a reward to get their mind off of how bad things are. After all, if they were REALLY poor, the reasoning goes, they wouldn't be able to eat out. Put that together with the fact that a majority have jobs that don't require movement (i.e. telephone sales), and the lack of higher education, and you have a recipe for disaster. I'm saddened to hear that Huntington was ranked "worst city" for health; but then, I'm not too surprised, either.
The correct name for what the writer refers to as the Huntington Metropolitan Area, is properly called the Huntington-Ashland Metropolitan Area. This area incorporates Cabell and Wayne counties in West Virginia, Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky and Lawrence county in Ohio. One would think that the main theme of this article would be to enlighten the public as to the health problems of the area without the reinforcement of stereotypes but, no, that wasn't good enough for this writer. The low esteem that many in our nation hold West Virginians and the sport of holding it's citizens up for ridicule is such great fun, and adds such a desperate, third worldish atmosphere to the story, why miss the opportunity to be entertaining by being factual? Therefore the writer simply HAD to reinforce these ingrained prejudices by failing to take the two minutes needed to do a simple Google search, he would have learned that the MAJORITY of people who live in the Huntington-Ashland Metropolitan Area AREN'T West Virginians AT ALL!!! But why let little trivial details get in the way of reinforcing the misconceptions of his readers, whom he evidently believes are as prejudiced and small minded as himself. One would think that appropriately trained and responsible editors would have caught the obvious flaws and slant of this story and had it rewritten but such editors must be sorely lacking at ABC news and the AP. With views such as this writer, it is little wonder that several years ago, when an employee of West Virginia Public Radio called up a Washington DC public radio station and inquired as to why it had dropped WVPR's award winning Mountain Stage radio program from it's schedule, was told, "WHY WE JUST COULDN'T SEE WHY WE WOULD BE SCHEDULING ANY CULTURAL PROGRAMS FROM WEST VIRGINIA!!" It has become justly incorrect to stereotype people because of their race, religion or nationality but we citizens of the Mountain State constantly find ourselves served up as fodder for the cannons of discrimination simply for where we were born and live, without regard to the content of our character. The writer and the editors should be ashamed of serving up this garbage laden offal for human consumption.
This article is patently nonfactual, misleading and biased. The Huntington Metropolitan area that the writer refers to is actually the Huntington/Ashland Metropolitan area and West Virginians are a minority of it's population. The writer would have known this if he had done a simple two minute Google search. Residents of Ashland KY, and Ironton, OH should also have been interviewed.
This article is very skewed. Its been proven that obesity decreases the amount of blood vessels going to the brain because they need it for the rest of the body. I'm sure that a population of healthy people are a lot more productive then a population of unhealthy, obese, disease-ridden people. It's common sense. What ppl of Huntington can do is to educate themselves. If you are overweight and unhealthy that means they lifestyle you are living is not working. Don't blame it on economy or society, everyone faces that, do what you can and change.
I am from West Virginia. I now live in Southern California. I got as far away from that state as possible. I call WVA a social disfuntional state. The place is still 1900.