As We See It

A real look at health in Las Vegas—with plenty of room for improvement

Las Vegas ranked poorly in the American Fitness Index’s “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 largest Metropolitan Areas” list.

It’s not news when Las Vegas gets lumped in with yet another “unhealthiest cities” list. After all, most of those lists are lazily compiled and have more to do with perceptions about the Vegas lifestyle (i.e., we all go out to the Strip at night, drink to excess and eat fast food on our way home) than with what’s actually happening here.

However, the report issued this month by the American College of Sports Medicine is a whole different kettle of fish—or potato chips. It’s the American Fitness Index’s “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 largest Metropolitan Areas,” and these guys—a sizeable team of Ph.D.s, M.D.s and academics—did some serious research (using data from various federal agencies) on Las Vegas’ overall and long-term health outlook.

Bottom line, it ain’t pretty. We rank near the bottom of the pack, scoring a 41.6 out of 100, for a rank of 39. In first place, Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington scored 78.2, while Oklahoma City scored 31.2 for last place.

Scoring was based on a variety of statistics, from rates of obesity and diabetes to the number of parks per capita to lifestyle choices. Every city was ranked for Areas of Excellence and Improvement Priority Areas and compared against target goals set by the ACSM by taking the average from the 2008 to 2012 American Fitness Index data.

Las Vegas had only three Areas of Excellence, most notably more dog parks per capita—4.4 per 100,000 with a target of 0.9. The Improvement Priority List was far longer and included a higher percentage of current smokers—22.6 percent (13.1); a lower percentage of people with health insurance—72.7 percent (91.2); and fewer primary health care providers per capita—62.5 per 100,000 (105.6).

Hey, at least we’re still No. 1 on the Trade Show Destination list.

Tags: News, Opinion
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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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