Boulder, Colo., residents are the least obese city dwellers in the United States for the third year in a row, according to a Gallup-Healthways report released this month.
The report is based on phone surveys of nearly 250,000 residents in 189 metropolitan areas in 2012. Researchers found that 102 of the metropolitan areas had obesity rates lower than the national average of 26.2%. They also found that smaller cities were more likely to have high obesity rates than larger ones.
According to the report, the 10 metropolitan areas with the lowest concentration of obese residents in 2012 were:
1. Boulder, Colo. (where only 12.5% of residents are obese);
2. Charlottesville, Va. (14.3%);
3. Bellingham, Wash. (15.9%);
4. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. (16.5%);
5. Naples-Marco Island, Fla. (16.6%);
6. Denver-Aurora, Colo. (17.8%);
7. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. (18.0%);
8. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif. (18.1%);
9. Madison, Wis. (18.2%); and
10. Colorado Springs, Colo. (18.3%).
Meanwhile, the 11 metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of obese residents in 2012 were:
1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas (where 38.5% of residents are obese);
2. Huntington-Ashland, W.V., Ky., and Ohio (37.7%);
3. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark. (34.7%);
4. Mobile, Ala. (33.7%);
5. Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md. and W.V. (33.4%);
6. Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C. (33.1%);
7. Toledo, Ohio (33.0%);
8. Charleston, W.V. (32.9%);
9. Reading, Pa. (32.8%); and
9. Erie, Pa. (32.5%); and
9. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (32.5%).
According to the researchers, the average resident in the most obese areas earned $7,240 less than the national mean wage, while the average resident of the least obese areas earned $1,993 more than average. Overall, residents of more obese cities are "less likely to be able to consistently afford food and health care" than residents of the cities with low obesity rates, the report says.
The report notes that communities and employers in poverty-stricken areas would benefit from lower obesity rates. As such, "community and workforce leaders" should do more to promote healthy lifestyles in those areas (Gallup-Healthways report, 4/11).
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