The people of Provo, Utah, have the highest level of well-being and the folks around Huntington, W.Va., the lowest, at least according to the latest ranking of 189 cities and metropolitan areas from Gallup and Healthways.
The 2013 rankings, released Tuesday, are based on more than 500,000 interviews in which people were asked about such matters as their emotional and physical health, job satisfaction, community safety and access to food, shelter and health care.
This is the sixth year of the survey and the second time the Provo-Orem area has come in first; it's the fourth time the Huntington-Ashland, Ky. area has come in last.
"It's some strong validation for what we already know here in Provo," says the city's Mayor John Curtis. "It's a great place to live." He says other surveys have named the people of his city "most optimistic" and "nicest."
In that spirit, Curtis says Provo won't be trash-talking Boulder, Colo., which it knocked out of the top spot. "We have a lot of respect for Boulder," he says.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says continuing low health and well-being rankings by Gallup and other organizations are "aggravating as can be" at a time when the city is recovering from an economic slump. He notes the city just got an upgraded credit rating. But he says the rankings — in which Huntington is called out for everything from high obesity rates to low access to fruits and vegetables — have "certainly been a motivator for us to take an honest look at ourselves and get busy."
He says the city is expanding a farmers market, hosting 41 5K races a year and still promoting healthy eating at Huntington's Kitchen — the facility set up by British chef Jamie Oliver when he brought his Food Revolution show to town back in 2010. It's now run by a hospital.
Gallup-Healthways pollsters are well aware that some ratings can sting. "The goal is not to make any community or population feel bad about results," says Patrick Bogart, Gallup's director of client services. "Our goal is to get leaders thinking about how they can enhance well-being."
Some highlights from the rankings:
• Provo-Orem has the lowest smoking rate (7%) and Charleston, W.Va., has the highest (34%)
• Utica-Rome, N.Y., has the highest job satisfaction (93%); Charleston has the lowest (81%)
• People in Holland-Grand Haven, Mich., are most likely to feel safe walking alone at night (86%) and people in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, are least likely to feel safe (49%).
The top 10 cities for overall well-being:
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.
The bottom 10 communities for overall 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
The full list of community rankings, plus previously released state rankings for 2013, are at Healthways.com. Healthways is a health care services company based in Franklin, Tenn.