(USA TODAY) Boulder, Colo., ranked as the city least plagued by obesity, according to recent research. Among the 10 cities with the lowest level of obesity, another two also are in Colorado — Denver and Fort Collins. Cities with the highest obesity rate were led by Huntington, W.Va. Two other cities in the state, Charlestown and Martinsburg, were also in the top 10 cities ranks by high obesity rate.
According to new research from Gallup, which made the measurements:
Adult obesity rates are above 15% in all but one of the 189 metro areas that Gallup and Healthways surveyed in 2012 and 2013. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 program had a goal of reducing obesity to 15% in each state. No state and only one U.S. metro area has achieved this goal.
The entire top 10 among the least obese cities were Boulder (12.4% obesity rate); Naples, Fla. (16.5%); Fort Collins (18.2%); Charlottesville, Va. (18.2%); Bellingham, Wash. (18.7%); San Diego (19.3%); Denver (19.3%); San Jose (19.5%); Bridgeport, Conn. (19.6%); and Barnstable Town, Mass. (19.6%). It is easy to observe that these cities tend to have concentrations of well-to-do Americans.
Among the most obese cities: Huntington (39.5%); McCallen, Texas (38.3%); Haggerstown, Md. (36.7%); Yakima, Wash. (35.7%); Little Rock (35.1%); Charlestown (34.6%); Clarksville, Tenn. (33.8%), Jackson, Miss. (33.8%); Green Bay (33.0%); and Rockford, Ill. (33%). Note the concentration of poor cities south of the Mason-Dixon line and in old northern cities where manufacturing industries have been destroyed.
The research work — a joint venture between Gallup and Healthways — offered a pessimistic observation about the effect of obesity and the likely near-term future:
"Rising obesity rates have significant health consequences for both individuals and communities of all sizes. Numerous social, environmental, economic, and individual factors may all contribute to physical inactivity and consumption of less healthy foods, two lifestyle behaviors linked to obesity," says Janna Lacatell, Healthways Lifestyle Solutions Director. "In order to combat the trend and encourage individuals to make healthier choices, community-based policy and environmental approaches can, and should, be used."
With tens of thousands of fast-food chain locations on corners across the America, and aisles of fatty food in supermarkets, the "future of thin" is grim.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2 to Dec. 29, 2012, and Jan. 2 to Dec. 30, 2013, with a random sample of 531,630 adults, aged 18 and older, living in metropolitan areas in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Two years of data were aggregated together to enable the same number of reportable cities as in prior years, when the overall annual data collection exceeded 350,000 interviews per year, compared to 178,072 interviews conducted in 2013. At least 300 cases are required per metro area for reporting.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index also pinpointed the cities with the most content (and miserable) workers.