As you lean back and loosen your belt following a weekend of leftover stuffing and alcoholic gluttony, consider for a moment if the neighborhood you call home could be keeping you in good health.
We looked at seven types of community rankings from the L.A. Health Atlas, including crime rates, homicides, car accidents, number of fast food outlets, access to “modified food,” proximity to truck routes, and childhood obesity rates. Then we weighed the top 10 communities in each category to come up with …
… our unscientific version of the city's 10 healthiest neighborhoods. Yes, the Westside dominates, but there are a few surprises:
10. Palms/Mar Vista/Del Rey. Lowly Palms/Mar Vista/Del Rey gets no respect. Yes, it's an apartment-land on the lower edge of this gilded part of town (though Mar Vista is pretty nice). But the numbers show that this region ranks among L.A.'s lower-crime areas. And being alive and uninjured is healthy.
9. Sherman Oaks and Westchester/Playa Del Rey (tie). We're starting to see the pattern here. The Westside and the West Valley are good for your vital signs. Sherman Oaks has a low murder rate. Westchester/Playa Del Rey had even lower homicide and crime numbers.
8. West L.A. Ah, yes. The LAPD's West Los Angeles Division has the lowest crime in the city. The area also has good scores on modified food and car accident rates.
See also: L.A.'s 5 Surliest Neighborhoods.
7. Encino. I think we all know that Encino, land of the hillside McMansion, onetime home of the Jacksons, belongs on this list. It scored quite well in the ratings for both homicide (with one of the lowest rates in town) and low childhood obesity. If the iconic '80s Valley girl is still around, she lives here … and she does yoga.
6. Northeast L.A. Sure, this is the home of acres of green space thanks to Griffith Park, not to mention the good life of the Silver Lake and Los Feliz hills. But it's also an area dissected by freeways. Nevertheless, the data shows the Northeast area has a low rate of car accidents, a lack of fast food and low crime. Thai food must be good for you.
5. Sunland. Here's a surprise! In the hot northeast Valley, a land of industry and backyard chickens, rises Sunland. The community did well because it has a relatively low number of truck routes — therefore improving air quality — and because it also had fairly low homicide and overall crime numbers. Who knew?
4. Northridge. Sure, it's the Valley. But have you ever been to Northridge? Total Leave it to Beaver vibe with ranch houses galore. The suburbs can be good for your body. The Atlas says it ranked high in truck routes (read: lack thereof) and boasted low levels of childhood obesity.
3. Westwood. This UCLA-adjacent community is right next to the 405 freeway, which brings down its score. But it also has low-low crime and homicide rates and even does well when it comes to a lack of modified food sources. No wonder Bruins are really, really ridiculously good-looking.
2. Brentwood/Pacific Palisades. Sea breezes. Acre-plus lots. Plenty of vegan eateries. What's not to like? These neighborhoods scored through the roof for low crime and low levels of modified food spots. For the record, they also did the best in life expectancy, a metric we didn't use in computing these scores because, as measured, the communities weren't always comparable. You could live here a long, long time … if you can afford it.
And the healthiest section of Los Angeles is …
1. Bel Air/Beverly Crest. The city's most expensive real estate — in the hills above Westwood and Beverly Hills — is also its healthiest real estate. Low, low crime. The lowest number of fast food eateries. Low childhood obesity. And a hella high cost of living. If the Atlas would have weighed house-payment-related heart attacks, Bel Air/Beverly Crest might not have ranked so high. As it stands, it's at the very top of the good-health mountain.