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Chicago Rated Among Healthiest Cities In America. For Real.

By Stephen Gossett in News on Feb 21, 2017 10:31PM

Stereotypes of Bill Swerski-esque sausage devourers and calorie bomb pizza casseroles be damned. Chicago is one of America's top-ranking cities in terms of health and wellness metrics, according to a new ranking announced on Wednesday.

Spearheaded by CityHealth, an initiative that advocates for health-and-wellness policies around the country, the ranking awarded cities either a gold, silver or bronze medal—or none at all—based on nine criteria. Chicago was one of only five cities to earn the gold. (New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C. were the others.)

Cities were graded on how well they fulfilled the following policies:
- Paid Sick Days
- Universal, High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten
- Affordable Housing and Inclusionary Zoning
- Complete Streets
- Alcohol Sales Control
- Tobacco 21
- Clean Indoor Air
- Food Safety and Restaurant Inspection Ratings
- Healthy Food Procurement

"Policy is a powerful lever for leaders looking to make a difference in people's well-being and make their cities great places to live. We congratulate cities that have seized opportunities to lift all neighborhoods, and look forward to working together to enhance policy areas like paid sick days and public safety by regulating the density of alcohol retail outlets," said Dr. Shelley Hearne, CityHealth's principal investigator.

"This report confirms what we already know: Chicago is leading the nation when it comes to developing and implementing policies that make a difference in the lives of our residents," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

Among the areas in which Chicago scored highest were indoor air quality and complete streets, which refers to policies that promote accord between motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation.

Chicago was ranked the most bike-friendly city in America last September by Bicycling magazine; and it was chosen as third best city for "active living" in a ranking in October.

The ranking hardly seems ideal, especially if, as experts urge, you consider Chicago violence from a public health perspective or examine the ways in which some of the city's most vulnerable go uninsured. But at least we're in the right direction on other counts.