Columbia named the healthiest city in Missouri

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COLUMBIA - Columbia is the healthiest city in Missouri, according to a recent study published by USA Today.

The statistics considered in the study are: the unemployment rate (4.1 percent), the obesity rate (23.5 percent), how many are "food insecure (11.6 percent)," and how many don't have health insurance (8.6 percent).

According to the study, "Missouri ranks average or slightly worse than average in most measures of health. Still, Columbia, which has the best physical and mental well-being scores in the state, is healthier than the nation as a whole."

In 2013, the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services conducted a community health assessment in the Boone County area. The results were similar those released Wednesday.

"We know, in general, that Columbia/Boone County area had better results on the health indicator than it did state wide," said spokesperson of Columbia/Boone County Health Department Andrea Waner. 

Waner and the Health Department are pleased with the results, but she believes there is more to be done to become healthier. 

"We like to see that we're doing good in health care and public health and social services, but we always know there is room for improvement and opportunity for growth in areas that we can address to make our community healthier for all involved," she said. 

Steven Kassel, the membership director at Wilson's Fitness, said he believes Columbia is healthy due to the city's fitness opportunities, and the surrounding trails are a big help. 

"The amount of people that use the trails in Columbia that are out in the parks. The lifestyle out here suggests that it's cool to be healthy," he said. 

Both Kassel and Waner think Columbia is headed in the right direction, but the people need to have the same mindset and the willingness to stay healthy. Kassel said the people can motivate each other while also eating foods with nutrients instead of food for comfort.