You might think that the City of Brotherly Love, which prides itself on being a national leader in health care, would be healthier than its peers. Philadelphia is graced with some of the top academic medical centers in the country, numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, and the headquarters of several major medical organizations. And the city is a leader in public health on several fronts (think: campaigns against teen smoking and the soda tax).
Alas, despite its impressive medical and public health infrastructure, Philadelphia’s health status is lower than that of several neighboring metropolises. A recent survey by WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranked Philadelphia 27th out of 174 cities studied -- good but not great. We narrowly beat out Pittsburgh (29) but came in below Washington, DC (5), New York (6), and Boston (20).
And we were well below several major cities on the West Coast – San Francisco (1), Seattle (2), San Diego (3), and Portland (4).
We didn’t make it into the top five on any of the individual factors that went into the ranking, like premature death rate, percentage of physically active adults, and mental health counselors per capita. However, we can take comfort in not ranking in the bottom five for any of those factors.
Is our love of cheesesteaks to blame? Are we spending too much time in front of the TV rooting for another Eagles Super Bowl victory?
Perhaps the problem goes much deeper. Although the city is rich in health care resources, Philadelphia faces a crushing burden of poverty. It is the poorest of the nation’s 10 largest metropolitan areas.
Many of the factors that WalletHub measured reflect a city’s affluence. Philadelphia may have scored lowered than its neighbors on some of the individual factors, such as adults eating enough fruits and vegetables, healthy restaurants per capita, and dietitians and nutritionists per capita, because a large percentage of residents can’t afford them.