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Healthiest Cities - Methodology

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About the Centrum® Healthiest Cities in America Study


This study was conducted by Bert Sperling. The 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were chosen to be included in the study, as defined by the United State Census Bureau. For the purpose of this study, MSAs are referred to as "cities" or "metro areas." The 2003 estimated population was used to determine the most populous 50 places. The study was based on the following criteria:

Mental Wellness Lifestyle Pursuits Physical Activity
Stress index
Sleep problems
Mental health not good
Poor health- reduced usual activities
Physical health not good
General health is excellent
Low unemployment rate
High recent job growth
Cost of Living index
Commute time
Vacation days
Hours per week
Overtime hours
Social & recr. memberships
Bicycling expenditures
Camping & boating expend.
Toys, hobbies expend.
Dinner out expend.
Theater, symph, dance, opera
Musical instr. stores
Amusement parks
Dog parks
Exercise - moderate
Exercise - vigorous
Some physical activity
Participant sports fees
Recr. lessons
Recr. expend.
Gyms / health clubs
Health Status Nutrition
Diabetes incidence
Hypertension incidence
Arthritis incidence
Asthma incidence
High cholesterol incidence
Dental visits
Teeth cleaning
Smoking - some days
Smoking - every day
Physicians per capita
Multivitamin usage
Fruits & vegetable servings
Fast food outlets
Alcohol - drinks per month


The Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) included in the study received points for each of the 50 criteria based on their relation to the other MSAs' scores in that data category. To compare categories, the most significant data element for any given category received a score of 100 points. The data element for each category which was associated with the most negative indicator of health received a score of 0 points. The remaining cities were assigned point values between 0 and 100 based on their data element's percentage of the range between the most desirable score in that category and the least desirable score in that category. In this way, the point values assigned to cities preserve the proportionality of the data points in relation to the data set while providing a common point scale. Category scores were weighted and aggregated to determine an overall Healthy City score for each metro area.

Data sources

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Study examined two million responses from the 1997-2003 editions of the BRFSS, which is the world's largest telephone Study, reaching over a quarter-million households annually.
  • The number of respondents averaged 1,340 per metro area for these specific questions.
  • Consumer expenditures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and MediaMark (MRI). Expenditures were expressed as a percentage of each area's median household income to avoid bias towards higher spending in more affluent areas.
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2003 demographic estimates, American Community Study
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census, current year estimates by Sperling's Best Places
  • American Medical Association
  • All the areas in the study refer to the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), as defined by the Bureau of the Census. MSAs include one or more central city and its surrounding counties.

    About Sperling's Best Places

    For over 16 years, Bert Sperling has been analyzing data about people and places and rating them for major publications. Sperling's concepts and methodology have been the basis of numerous studies since 1985, when he developed a software program named "Places, U.S.A." that allowed people to enter their personal preferences to find their own best place. Today, his company, Fast Forward, Inc. (the producer of BestPlaces.net) is responsible for more "Best Places" studies and projects than any other organization. His Web site, BestPlaces.net, provides accurate and up-to-date information about demographics, preferences, and the selection of "Best Places" to live, work, or retire, in a useful and entertaining format.

    About Centrum®

    Centrum is the leading multivitamin in the United States and the one most recommended by doctors. Centrum offers up-to-date and balanced nutritional support: regular Centrum is a complete multivitamin with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that work to help meet your body's individual needs; Centrum® Silver® is a specially formulated multivitamin for people over 50, with higher levels of specific nutrients to help meet the needs of older adults; Centrum Performance® is a premium multivitamin formulated with higher levels of energy-essential nutrients to help optimize your body's energy level everyday; Centrum Kids® is a chewable multivitamin that provides children with more vitamins and minerals than other leading brands.

    About Wyeth Consumer Healthcare

    Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, a division of Wyeth, is one of the world's leaders in the development, manufacture and marketing of non-prescription medicines, vitamins and nutritional products including such established brands as Advil®, Centrum®, Chap Stick®, Dimetapp® and Robitussin®. Wyeth Consumer Healthcare also is the maker of the Centrum® family of products, including: Centrum®, Centrum® Silver®, Centrum Performance® and Centrum Kids®.

    About Wyeth

    Wyeth is one of the world's largest research-driven pharmaceutical and health care products companies. It is a leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotechnology products and non-prescription medicines that improve the quality of life for people worldwide. The Company's major divisions include Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and Fort Dodge Animal Health.

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