Vermont’s largest city is tops among U.S. metropolitan areas by having the largest proportion of people — 92 percent — who say they are in good or great health.
It’s also among the best in exercise and among the lowest in obesity, diabetes and other measures of ill health, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This New England city of 40,000, on the shores of Lake Champlain, is in some ways similar to the unhealthiest city — Huntington, West Virginia. Both are out-of-the-way college towns with populations that are overwhelmingly white people of English, German or Irish ancestry.
The cultures are significantly different, too. Bicycling, hiking, skiing and other exercises are common in Burlington. Neighborhood groups commonly focus on improving parks, working in community gardens and repairing and improving sidewalks.
And though college staples like pizza are common, healthier foods are also popular. Grass-fed beef is offered in finer restaurants, vegan options are plentiful, and the lone downtown supermarket is run by a co-op successful in selling bulk rice and other healthy choices to low-income residents.
Burlington is helped by the presence of IBM and other employers offering more generous health benefits and corporate wellness programs.
Independent left-wing politics ain’t bad either.