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Geography shapes health and wellness habits, survey shows

Miamians are the most health-conscious while Minnesotans are the least of people in 18 cities surveyed.

A new survey shows 84% of Americans give priority to their health and wellness, with residents of Miami caring the most about their health and Minneapolians living on the other end of the spectrum.

The survey, released by Healthline, looked at consumer preferences in 18 major cities in the U.S.: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Oregon, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Healthline said its goal was to get a sense of how geography shapes the specific health concerns and wellness habits of city-dwelling Americans.

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Eighty-one percent of survey takers said they were "very well-informed" about their health and 80% said they believed they were proactive. Seventy-four percent replied they exercised moderately for 20 to 30 minutes two or more times a week, while 57% said they exercise vigorously two or more times a week.

Weight was their biggest health concern: 41% choose that as their top priority. Anxiety came in second with 38% saying it was their top concern, followed by lack of sleep at 38%, lack of exercise at 33% and depression at 32%.

Miami residents gave health and wellness the highest priority, with 93% saying they made it a top priority. The survey also showed 90% of Miamians believe they are well-informed and proactive about their health, and 86% said wellness is a way of life.

In contrast, 75% of Minneapolis residents called health and well-being a top priority and 81% said they were well-informed about their health. While 63% of Miami residents said they believed it was important to research health concerns, 42% of those in Minneapolis said the same. There were also 29% of those in Minneapolis who said they exercised moderately more than five times a week, compared to 52% in Miami.

Results from other cities show that, compared to the average across the cities surveyed, 60% of people in Dallas are more concerned about being able to find birth control and reproductive services. In Denver, people are 50% more concerned about drug addiction, the survey showed.

New Yorkers said they were 32% less worried about lack of sleep than the rest of the survey takers, while Philadelphians are 35% more concerned about work stress, 31% more concerned about getting cancer and 36% more concerned with inheriting a disease. People in Portland are 54% more concerned about managing chronic pain and chronic conditions, as well as 52% more concerned with pain management. 

While people in Miami are least concerned about a poor diet at 10%, people in Houston are the most concerned at 33%. People in New York and Los Angeles were least concerned about aging, at 16% and 19%, respectively, while aging is the biggest concern for 42% of the people surveyed in Phoenix.

People in Atlanta were most concerned with the cost of healthcare at 35% and medication at 25%, while San Franciscans were the least concerned about these areas at 15% and 14%, respectively.

The survey of 2,020 adults conducted from November 2-7, 2019, was done by Propeller Insights.

WHY IT MATTERS

The data of Americans' health and well-being awareness is encouraging according to Shante Newman of Bospar, the firm that released the survey for Healthline.

Wellness has become a huge priority for providers and payers as healthcare moves to value-based care and the industry looks to lower costs by improving outcomes.

THE LARGER TREND

The heightened awareness of health and wellness among Americans has grown as baby boomers age and live longer.  Wellness centers attached to hospitals have become part of a population health management program.

Insurers are including wellness programs such as exercise, smoking cessation and meditation, as benefits.

For example, last year, Blue Shield of California revamped its wellness offerings by introducing its Wellvolution program, a platform designed to match members with specific digital therapeutic providers and mobile health apps.

Humana began offering wellness rewards for members participating in Go365, though the move was also controversial because those who didn't participate reportedly incurred fees.

Last October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a pilot program in which Affordable Care Act plans in 10 states could offer wellness services, as employer-sponsored plans have been doing for years.

Max Sullivan is a freelance writer and reporter who, in addition to writing about healthcare, has covered business stories, municipal government, education and crime. Twitter: @maxsullivanlive maxesullivan@gmail.com