As one of its biggest health food grocers in Chattanooga prepares to close its stores in East Brainerd and Hixson, a new study ranks Chattanooga among the 10 worst major U.S. cities for healthy food options and consumption.
In a new assessment of America’s healthiest cities, the online financial web site WalletHub compared all cities in nine measurements of how much healthy food is available and what the diet and obesity is in each city. Chattanooga ranked as the 10th worst city among the 174 metro areas studied.
All of the worst cities were in the South, ranging from Brownsville, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Augusta, Georgia, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The WalletHub study looked at fruit and vegetable consumption, the availability of healthy restaurants and grocery stores, and the share of residents who say they eat healthy or search for healthy food on the internet to compile its list of the best and worst cities for healthy food. The highest rated cities for healthy food consumption and availability were, in order, the West Coast cities of San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Portland, Oregon.
Chattanooga was the birthplace of Krystal hamburgers, Moonpies and Brock Candy, and like most Southern cities, Chattanooga’s favorite dishes often involve fried foods. A previous WalletHub study found that Chattanooga ranked as the sixth fattest town in America with 40% of Chattanoogans considered to be overweight.
Chattanooga has attracted healthier-oriented food stores and restaurants to town in recent years, but one of the biggest health-focused grocery chains, Earth Fare, is shutting down this month. Earth Fare is currently liquidating its remaining food inventory off of its shelves at its stores in Hixson and East Brainerd.
WalletHub also ranked cities for their overall health based upon 43 metrics on health care, fitness, food and green spaces. In the overall national ranking on health, Chattanooga placed in the bottom 15% of all cities, ranking 24th worst among the 174 metro cities studied.
San Francisco ranked as the healthiest U.S. city and Brownsville, Texas, was the most unhealthy city, according to WalletHub.
Worst cities for healthy food
1. Brownsville, Texas
2. Montgomery, Alabama
3. Gulfport, Mississippi
4. Shreveport, Louisiana
5. Laredo, Texas
6. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
7. Las Cruce, New Mexico
8. Lubbock, Texas
9. Augusta, Georgia