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America's Most Obese Metropolitan Areas

Montgomery, Ala., and Stockton, Calif., Share the 'Honor' of Most Obese Metro Area
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 3, 2010 -- A ranking of No. 1 -- or being in the Top 10 -- isn't always something to crow about.

The latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index lists the 10 most obese metropolitan areas in the U.S. and finds that adult obesity rates in each are significantly greater than the national average of 26.5%.

Here's a list of the 10 most obese metro areas, with those ranking highest having the greatest obesity rates.

  1. (tie) Montgomery, Ala., and Stockton, Calif.: 34.6%
  2. Visalia/Porterville, Calif.: 34.1%
  3. York/Hanover, Pa.: 34%
  4. Flint, Mich.: 33.9%
  5. McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas: 33.7%
  6. Bakersfield, Calif.: 33.6%
  7. (tie) Lynchburg, Va., and Huntington/Ashland, West Va., Ky., Ohio: 33%
  8. Kingsport/Bristol, Tenn., Va.: 32.9%

 

Eating Fruits and Veggies

The latest Well-Being Index also examines factors that are linked to obesity.

Here's a look at how metro areas ranked according to the percentage eating fruits and vegetables frequently -- listed from worst to best. The nationwide percentage is 56.8%.

  1. McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas:  45.7%
  2. Montgomery, Ala.: 52.7%
  3. Bakersfield, Calif.: 53.1%
  4. Stockton, Calif.: 54.8%
  5. Flint, Mich.: 56.4%
  6. Visalia/Porterville, Calif.: 56.6%
  7. Lynchburg, Va.: 56.8%
  8. York/Hanover, Pa.: 59.0%
  9. Huntington/Ashland/ West Va., Ky., Ohio 60.2 %
  10. Kingsport/Bristol Tenn., Va.:  62.2%

 

Exercising Frequently

Here's a look at the rankings -- from worst to best -- of the percentage of people exercising frequently. The percentage nationwide is 49.9%.

  1. Montgomery, Ala.:  43.3%
  2. Flint, Mich.:  44.5%
  3. McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas: 45.8%
  4. Lynchburg, Va.: 46.1%
  5. Huntington/Ashland, W. Va., Ky., Ohio:   47.7%
  6. York/Hanover, Pa.: 47.8%
  7. Bakersfield, Calif.:  48.4%
  8. Kingsport/Bristol, Tenn., Va.: 48.5%
  9. Visalia/Porterville, Calif.:  49.2%
  10. Stockton, Calif.:  51%

Gallup-Healthways says in a news release that eight of the 10 most obese areas rank in the bottom two-thirds in terms of having easy access to fruits and vegetables and nine rank in the bottom two-thirds for having a safe place to exercise.

Seven of the 10 most obese metro areas rank among the bottom 25 places where residents say there have been times in the past year when they didn't have enough money to buy food for themselves or family members.

Obesity's Link to Health Problems

The researchers note that obesity often is a precursor to chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart attack. These conditions were included in the Gallup-Healthways physical health index.

The report also finds that:

  • Each of the 10 most obese metro areas are in the bottom two-thirds of all places in terms of diabetes.
  • The Huntington/Ashland areas of West Va., Kentucky, and Ohio, with Montgomery, Ala., and the Kingsport/Bristol area on the Tennessee-Virginia line are in the bottom 10 among all metro areas surveyed in regard to blood pressure, with rates nearly 10 percentage points above the national average.
  • Huntington and Kingsport, along with Lynchburg, are in the bottom 10 for high cholesterol.
  • Huntington and Kingsport are among the bottom 10 for heart attacks, with rates almost twice the national average.
  • Four of the 10 most obese areas are in the top third among all metro areas for not smoking, but the other six rank in the bottom two-thirds.

The Gallup-Wellbeing report is based on telephone interviews with more than 353,000 adults 18 and over between Jan. 2, 2009, and Dec. 29, 2009. It has a margin of sampling error of 0.2 percentage points.

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