More than 20% of Americans were obese in 174 of the 188 U.S. metropolitan areas that the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed in 2010. In the most obese of these metro areas, Evansville, IN-KY, 37.8% of residents were obese, compared with 12.9% in the least obese place, Boulder, CO.
Most Obese Metro Areas Average 34% Obesity
The average obesity rate in the 10 most obese metro areas surveyed in 2010 was 34.1%, almost double the 17.4% in the 10 least obese metro areas. Five of the most obese metro areas are located in Southern states and three in Midwestern states, with two in the Mid-Atlantic state of Pennsylvania.
Looking at the least obese metro areas, six are located in Western states, two in the Southern state of Florida, one in the Northeastern state of Connecticut and one in the non-contiguous state of Hawaii.
Chronic Conditions More Prevalent in Most Obese Metro Areas
Chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are significantly more prevalent in the 10 most obese metro areas than in the 10 that are the least obese. For example, 14.6% of adults, on average, in the 10 most obese metro areas say they have ever been diagnosed with diabetes, 71% more than the 8.5% average in the 10 least obese places.
High blood pressure stands out in particular in terms of percentage-point difference, it is 40% and 10 percentage points higher in the most obese metro areas (35.8%) than in the least obese ones (25.6%). In addition, 73.5% adults also report having had a heart attack in the places where obesity is the highest (5.9% compared to 3.4%).
Healthy Habits Less Prevalent in Most Obese Metro Areas
Americans living in the most obese metro areas surveyed are about 12% less likely to exercise regularly compared with residents living in the least obese places. They also eat fruits and vegetables 5% less frequently than those in the least obese metro areas.
In addition, those living in the slimmest metro areas are 11.5% more likely to say they do not smoke than are those who live in the most obese places.
Obesity Highest in WV, Lowest in CO
West Virginia (33.5%) has the highest rate of adult obesity of any US state, while Colorado (20%) has the lowest, according to other recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. The prevalence of obesity is nearly 35% higher, on average, in the 11 states with the highest obesity levels compared with the 10 states with the lowest obesity levels: 30.5% vs. 22.6%, respectively.
About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2-Dec. 29, 2010, with a random sample of 245,817 adults, aged 18 and older, living in reportable metropolitan statistical areas in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Gallup tracks US obesity levels as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, using Americans’ self-reported height and weight to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. BMI scores of 30 or higher are considered obese.