Physical Well-Being

How are we doing?

Percent of Population Who Reported Good or Excellent Health (2015)

In 2015, 84.2% of the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) population reported good or excellent health. This ranked Tucson fifth among peer western communities, just behind Austin and San Diego. Denver ranked first with 87.5% of the population reporting good or excellent health, while El Paso ranked last at 76.8%. Tucson’s percentage of the population that reported good or excellent health increased by nearly three percentage points since 2012.

Why is it important?

Many factors determine one’s health and well-being. An individual’s health plays an important role in their quality of life. Additionally, diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity have high financial costs for the nation. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Regular physical activity plays an important role in the prevention of many health related diseases including heart disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines regular physical activity as participation in moderate and vigorous physical activities as well muscle strengthening activities. According to data collected in 2015 for the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Health data is vital to identifying emerging health problems and trends. Additionally, health data can be used to identify areas where public health policies may be needed and to evaluate existing programs.

How do we compare?

Residents living in the Tucson MSA reported an average of 3.5 poor physical health days per month. Tucson tied San Diego and Salt Lake City for third while Denver and Austin led the way with an average of 3.2 poor physical days reported per month. Residents who live in El Paso reported the highest number of poor physical health days among the 12 western metropolitan areas explored at 4.3.

The reported incident of heart conditions, both heart attacks and coronary heart disease, are significantly lower for Tucson residents than those in the state or the nation. In 2012, the latest data that is available for Tucson, the reported rate of heart attacks was 2.9% nearly half of the reported rate for the nation. Similarly, the reported rate for coronary heart disease at 3.2% was 1.2 percentage points lower than the national rate.

Among the 12 western metropolitan areas, Tucson’s residents reported the fourth lowest incidence of obesity in 2012. Denver residents posted the lowest rate at 19.6% followed by Colorado Springs at 21.0%. Tucson’s rate of 22.8% was 5.3% percentage points lower than the U.S. rate of 28.1%. El Paso was the only western metropolitan area to exceed the U.S. rate.  

The percentage of the population who reported having diabetes in 2012 was higher in Tucson than the state or the nation. Tucson’s rate of 11.0% was one percentage point higher than the state and 1.3 percentage points higher than the nation.

What are the key trends?

In 2015, the percentage of the population that reported good or excellent health in the Tucson MSA was higher than both the nation and the state. Tucson’s reported percentage at 84.2% was just about a half percentage higher than the nation and 2.4 percentage points higher than the state. The percentage of residents in Tucson that report good or excellent health over the past few years has generally been near 84.0%, with a slight decrease in 2012. The nation and the state posted consistent rates of good or excellent health between 2014 and 2016. Data for Tucson is currently only available through 2015.

How is it measured?

All data reported originates from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is a health-related telephone survey that collects state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventative services. The BRFSS data presented is collected from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the County Health Rankings.