The Fattest and Skinniest Cities in the Nation

03/10/2012

Fat and skinny main photoThe cities with the highest obesity rates aren’t just plagued with the embarrassment of having that unseemly title, they also have to deal with the repercussions of obesity. Let’s remember that obesity is a controllable health issue that causes diabetes, heart disease, and various kinds of cancer. This impacts those that aren’t even obese by spreading the healthcare costs for these chronic diseases far and wide.

For example, “the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area pays more than $400 million in unnecessary health-care costs each year because of its high obesity rate. If it reduced the obesity rate to 15 percent, the area could potentially save more than $250 million annually, Gallup estimates.” If Americans continue to pack on pounds, obesity will cost us about $344 billion in medical-related expenses by 2018, eating up about 21 percent of health-care spendingaccording to an article in USA Today.

At least 15 percent of residents in 187 of the country’s 190 metro areas are obese.

Boulder is the skinniest city with an obesity rate of 12 percent followed by the only other cities to be below the 15 percent mark: Bridgeport-Stamford, CT  and Fort Collins-Loveland, CO. Fifteen percent is the Surgeon General’s goal obesity rate, but unfortunately, many were much higher. 

Here’s the list below via LiveScience from the Gallup-Healthway Well-Being Index:

Where does your city fall and are you surprised?

Top 10 most obese metro areas (with percent of residents considered obese):

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas: 38.8 percent
Binghamton, N.Y.: 37.6
Huntington-Ashland, W. Va., Ky., Ohio: 36.0
Rockford, Ill.: 35.5
Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas: 33.8
Charleston, W. Va.: 33.8
Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.: 33.5
Topeka, Kans.: 33.3
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash.: 33.2
Reading, Penn.: 32.7

(See full list of cities' obesity rates)

10 least obese metro areas:

Boulder, Colo.: 12.1 percent
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.: 14.5
Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.: 14.6
Barnstable Town, Mass.: 15.9
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.: 16.4
Naples-Marco Island, Fla.: 16.5
Trenton-Ewing, N.J.: 16.8
Provo-Orem, Utah: 17.1
Colorado Springs, Colo.: 17.4
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.: 17.5

Fat and skinny inline photo

Thinking about losing a few pounds? Consider a plant-based diet. In 2010 the USDA finally embraced a vegetarian diet. In its 2010 dietary pyramid, the USDA gave vegetarianism an outright endorsement saying in addition to improved heart health, a vegetarian diet was associated with lower rates of obesity. Another study in 2009 by Oxford researcher Tim Key found that vegetarians and vegans had body weights 3 percent to 20 percent lower than meat eaters.

Photos: Thinkstock

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More on Obesity 
Doctors Afraid to Tell Parents That Their Kids are Overweight 
Does Taxing Soda Actually Curb Obesity?
Study Confirms: Plant-Based Diet Decreases Childhood Obesity


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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