Supersize, please: The fattest and skinniest US cities

Rosella Age Contributor
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In case you’ve been under a rock for the last decade, there was a housing market crash that led to a recession, and — oh, yes — Americans are fat.

A government panel decided 15 years ago to reconfigure the definitions of “overweight” and “obese,” rendering millions of Americans “too fat” overnight. (That panel, according to a blockbuster report in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, was stacked with experts from the weight-loss industry.)

Still, the definitions stuck. And now we know where most of the new gym franchises should set up shop…

Fox News revealed the skinniest and fattest metro areas in the U.S., thanks to a new Gallup-Healthways poll which found that “at least 15 percent of residents in 187 of the 190 metro areas surveyed are obese.”

Two Texas towns made the most-obese list, including the top-ranked McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission metro area with 38.8 percent of residents considered downright roly-poly.

On the flip side, Boulder, Colo. reported just a 12.1 percent obesity rate, making it the skinniest city. Boulder and two other metro areas, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., and Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. are the only cities meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s goal of reducing the nationwide obesity rate to 15 percent.

The skinniest cities have more going for them than just bike paths and personal trainers: Their citizens generally spend less on health care, too.

Fox News reported that “Gallup estimates that in the 10 metro areas with the highest obesity rates, Americans cumulatively pay about $1 billion more in annual health-care costs than if those states had obesity rates of 15 percent.”

If there’s a state that takes the fatty, buttery, chocolate-y cake, it’s West Virginia, where two metro areas made the top 10 “most obese” list.

There might be a reason: According to a 2009 assessment, West Virginia as a whole was the least active state, with barely one- third of adults participating in moderate or vigorous exercise.


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

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

The 10 least obese metro areas:

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

The CDC explains that an adult with a body mass index of 30 or higher is considered obese. The BMI, simple measurement — some say too simple — is found by calculating a person’s height and weight.

A 5-foot-4-inch woman who weighs 174 pounds or more, or a 5-foot-10-inch man who weighs 209 pounds or more would have a BMI of 30. That also lumps in many professional athletes.

The United States is not that fattest country in the world. Not anymore, anyway. In 2010 the World Health Organization reported that the United States came in 8th place with 74.1 percent of the population considered overweight or obese.

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