Recently, Men’s Fitness released their annual listing of the fittest and fattest cities across America. They ranked the 50 largest cities, including all three Bay Area metros. San Francisco and Oakland were among the fittest (#12 and #20) places, while San Jose landed in the fattest ranks (#15) overall.
That makes sense when you add up all the different criteria below. San Franciscans log fewer hours with their TVs, have places to work out, can access healthcare, and aren’t as overweight as folks in other places. Interestingly, Oaklanders receive top grades for their junk food and overweight criteria. All three cities share great geography and state obesity initiatives.
However some of these fitness results are head-scratchers, because they don’t reflect realities of available resources. We found details about survey criteria, which describe calculations falling within strict city limits – and that explains a lot.
- Parks: Take a look at the grades for parks and open spaces in Oakland (C-), San Francisco (D+) and San Jose (F), which seem off-kilter. We know that many Oaklanders take advantage of the East Bay Regional Parks. Likewise, San Franciscans use the access trails along the Pacific Ocean. Even San Jose residents escape to nearby regional and state parks.
- Junk Food: The junk food grades also seem a little counter-intuitive, showing Oakland (A-) and San Jose (B+) beating out San Francisco (C). Perhaps there are more fast-food joints per capita in San Francisco, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. At the same time, nutrition rankings redeem San Francisco (A) when compared to Oakland (B) and San Jose (C).
- Air Quality: Finally, the air quality rankings are suspect. Oaklanders don’t lack for fresh air, and Montclarions literally revel in their mountain-like environs. We see a lower grade (C+) than San Francisco (B+) , while San Jose’s grade (D) makes sense in the valley.
Yet this Men’s Fitness list provides valid, apples-to-apples comparisons among major U.S. cities. Assuming these quality-of-life indicators are priorities, we should try to improve some of these grades. Access to health care and exercise facilities are common goods, right?