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Snapshot America: The Fattest and Thinnest Cities

Posted by bmagnus On March - 8 - 2010

Normally the news media is all over reports on how fat America has become, but this one somehow slid under radar. Gallup — the nice people who bring you so many political polls — has been working with Healthways since 2008 to deliver a regular snapshot of Americas fattest and slimmest cities.

While on average, 26.5% of Americans are obese, residents of the 10 fattest cities were at minimum 32.9% obese. But where things get interesting is in the habits of those people as compared to national averages. In 6 out of 10 of those cities, people claim they ate healthier than the national average and eat veggies regularly; in 8 out of 10 cities, more people claim they exercise regularly than the national average. There are more smokers than the national average in 6 of the 10 cities. In 6 of the cities there was a higher rate of not having health insurance, and in 9 of those cities there was a higher rate of not having enough money for food. How sad and ironic.

What is really sobering is that in 8 or 9 of those cities there are more bad health issues than the national average: more diabetes, more high blood pressure, more high cholesterol, and more heart attacks. Each. Yest more data against the idea of “fat but healthy.”

Then there are America’s 10 slimmest cities, all of which are coastal or mountain. The average obesity rate of all 10 cities is 18.7%, well below the national average. In those cities, more people report eating right, eating veggies, and not smoking than the national average. In every one of the 10 cities, people report getting regular exercise. Only 1 city had a lower rate of being able to afford food than the national average.

And not surprisingly, every one of the thin cities had lower than average rates of diabetes and heart attacks. Only 9 had lower rates of high blood pressure and high cholesterol; not everybody’s perfect.

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