Study ranks Indy as the unhealthiest city in America for second time

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis is officially the unhealthiest city in the United States, according to one study. High obesity and smoking rates, along with record-setting inactivity, earned Indianapolis the top spot of the unhealthiest places to live in America.

The American College of Sports Medicine, headquartered in Indianapolis came out with the rankings Wednesday. The organization looked a number of different factors; all of which put the Circle City in dead last.

“It is definitely disappointing, it’s frustrating,” said Kim Irwin, the Executive Director of Health by Design.

Despite our miles on the Monon, a downtown canal consumed with runners, and an abundance of bike lanes, Indy is the unhealthiest city in the U.S.

A study done by the College of Sports Medicine looked at a number of factors for the top 50 most populated cities in the country, taking a snapshot of a city’s overall health. The study took into consideration personal metrics, like whether or not you smoke and how active you are, as well as community metrics, like how walkable a city is and the number of parks and trails it has.

“These things are very hard to change and the interventions we’re doing are very long term and so we’re not going to see results from one year to the next,” said Irwin.

Irwin spends every day trying to make Indy a healthier place to live. Health by Design works with cities across the state to make sure they have an infrastructure that supports a healthy lifestyle.

Irwin said she wasn’t surprised Indy’s ranking was so poor.

“We have very, very low rates, particularly compared to the top ranked cities and so again, investment in sidewalks, investment in trails, investment in public transit,” she said.

So how did Indy stack up?

Indy has a 32 percent obesity rate. The study set the target obesity rate at 21 percent.

Indy also had one of the highest percentages of smokers, at 20 percent. The study said cities should aim to have that number no greater than 13 percent.

When it comes to investment in public parks and trails, Indy fell short again. According to the study, the Circle City invests $24 a person in parks and trails, not even close to the target of more than $100 per person.

“At the end of the day though, it’s on us to take the steps to start doing what they’re doing,” said Irwin.

This is the second year in a row Indy has come in last place.

Rounding out the top three fittest cities were Washington D.C., Minneapolis, and Denver. All three cities had an obesity rate between 20 and 25 percent.

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