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California's economy may be suffering and the state budget may be in disarray, but when it comes to healthy lifestyles, Californians -- or at least coastal Californians -- are leading the nation, according to The Atlantic magazine.

The magazine rates San Jose as the nation's healthiest metropolitan area, based its low rates of obesity and smoking, with nearby Santa Cruz No. 2 and seven other California coastal regions in the top 15.

The Atlantic devised a Metro Health Index, which "measures the share of people who smoke or are obese across 315 U.S. metro regions. The higher the score on the index, the lower the rates of smoking and obesity, and the better a metro's health outlook. Smoking is measured as the percentage of the population who are regular smokers. Obesity is measured as the percent of the population with a body mass index of 30 or more. It's notable that smoking and obesity themselves are closely related across the United States."

Richard Florida, an Atlantic columnist and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, conducted the survey of 315 regions with data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida reported that he found strong correlations between healthy lifestyles and income and education levels.

In addition to San Jose and Santa Cruz, Napa, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria, Salinas and San Diego also landed in the top 15.

No California area was rated in the bottom 20 percent on the healthy lifestyle index. Those were clustered in the South and Midwest. Five Central Valley counties, however, were found in the 20 percent to 40 percent category.


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