Atlanta cityscape with traffic

Atlanta ranks 21 on list of top-50 healthiest cities

The city of Atlanta was ranked the 21st healthiest metropolitan area in the United States for the second consecutive year, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2013 American Fitness Index (AFI).

Walt Thompson, associate dean for graduate studies and research in Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development and chair of the AFI Advisory Board and an author of the report, said the annual index incorporates numerous health factors into a city’s ranking, including preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease, health care access and community resources and policies that support physical activity.

“Cities are really taking a hard look at the rankings and looking for ways to improve,” he said.

Minneapolis-St. Paul placed No.1 on the index for the third year in a row, with its physically active population, large number of famers’ markets per capita, and low numbers of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease contributing to its ranking.

Atlanta’s high number of golf courses, parks, swimming pools, tennis courts and other recreation centers per capita contributed positively to its spot at No.21, as well as its lower death rate for diabetes, according to the index.

However, the city still has a few areas to improve – chief among them its high percentage of people with angina, coronary heart disease and asthma; a lower percent of the population using public transportation to get to work; and a lower percentage of city land area as parkland.

“In the south, we typically suffer from a poor diet and a lack of regular exercise,” Thompson said. “We have one of the highest rates of obesity in the country. But people are starting to pay more attention to obesity rates, and programs like Gov. Nathan Deal’s Georgia SHAPE program will put the focus back on childhood fitness.”

For more details about Atlanta’s ranking, click here.

For more information about the index, contact Thompson at [email protected].