Americans are the fattest people in the world, not just stereotypically but statistically too. In fact, almost 40% of the U.S. population aged 15 and older is obese. But such a finding should come as no surprise, considering the huge availability of fast-food and increasingly cheaper grocery items that have negatively altered our diets. Unfortunately, the extra pounds have inflated the costs of obesity-related medical treatment to between $147 billion and $210 billion a year and annual productivity losses due to work absenteeism to around $4.3 billion.

But certain places are more responsible than others for tipping the scale in favor of bad health. To identify them, WalletHub compared 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas across 19 key indicators of weight-related problems. Our data set ranges from share of physically inactive adults to projected obesity rates by 2030 to healthy-food access. Read on for our findings, expert advice on tackling America’s growing obesity problem and a full description of our methodology.

Main Findings

 

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Fattest Cities in the U.S.

Overall Rank (1 = ‘Fattest’)

Metro Area

Total Score

‘Obesity & Overweight’ Rank

‘Health Consequences’ Rank

‘Food & Fitness’ Rank

1 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 83.75 2 11 1
2 Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 82.48 6 3 3
3 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 82.23 1 25 4
4 Jackson, MS 80.58 14 8 8
5 Mobile, AL 80.23 19 1 34
6 Tulsa, OK 79.62 3 27 13
7 Knoxville, TN 79.59 10 19 14
8 Toledo, OH 79.48 18 10 12
9 Baton Rouge, LA 79.24 23 5 16
10 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC 79.23 31 4 7
11 Lafayette, LA 79.00 21 13 18
12 Oklahoma City, OK 78.88 7 20 19
13 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 78.83 24 18 10
14 Columbia, SC 78.78 11 32 9
15 New Orleans-Metairie, LA 78.71 13 2 46
16 Chattanooga, TN-GA 78.50 34 6 11
17 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 78.30 8 16 31
18 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 78.03 4 17 47
19 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 77.88 12 21 25
20 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC 77.63 22 22 22
21 Canton-Massillon, OH 77.59 35 7 32
22 Birmingham-Hoover, AL 77.51 26 14 20
23 Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC 77.40 25 39 2
24 Lexington-Fayette, KY 77.08 9 36 29
25 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 76.98 30 12 30
26 Winston-Salem, NC 76.92 49 9 6
27 Wichita, KS 76.76 38 24 5
28 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 76.34 16 47 24
29 El Paso, TX 76.24 15 56 15
30 Charleston-North Charleston, SC 76.05 20 45 27
31 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 75.98 5 34 51
32 Greensboro-High Point, NC 74.88 43 15 33
33 Huntsville, AL 74.74 27 95 23
34 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 74.44 17 78 38
35 Dayton, OH 74.36 33 37 36
36 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 73.80 57 23 17
37 Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 72.83 51 40 21
38 Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA 72.57 61 38 28
39 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 72.44 41 29 55
40 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 72.34 37 68 40
41 Jacksonville, FL 72.27 44 31 54
42 Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 72.20 39 57 53
43 Fort Wayne, IN 72.19 66 26 26
44 Columbus, OH 71.95 28 60 37
45 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 71.52 53 28 44
46 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 71.29 36 76 67
47 Kansas City, MO-KS 70.80 42 74 43
48 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 70.40 45 41 74
49 Asheville, NC 70.40 67 50 52
50 Akron, OH 70.19 54 69 35
51 Cleveland-Elyria, OH 70.00 29 52 75
52 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 69.90 59 46 57
53 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 69.85 64 30 68
54 Richmond, VA 69.83 80 35 39
55 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 69.59 60 67 45
56 Austin-Round Rock, TX 69.45 32 77 79
57 Pittsburgh, PA 69.39 52 59 56
58 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 69.39 46 43 87
59 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 69.38 68 66 41
60 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 69.01 50 44 71
61 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 68.90 40 61 82
62 St. Louis, MO-IL 68.76 47 64 76
63 Portland-South Portland, ME 68.41 69 65 65
64 Albuquerque, NM 68.38 55 83 59
65 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 68.37 48 48 89
66 Raleigh, NC 68.03 65 71 64
67 Manchester-Nashua, NH 67.82 84 49 63
68 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 67.77 73 33 81
69 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 67.52 74 55 58
70 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 67.46 63 51 88
71 Worcester, MA-CT 67.08 79 73 49
72 New Haven-Milford, CT 67.01 82 63 60
73 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 66.70 72 80 61
74 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 66.68 56 58 80
75 Anchorage, AK 66.52 81 54 66
76 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 66.36 62 85 78
77 Tucson, AZ 65.76 85 42 84
78 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 65.70 58 62 95
79 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 65.01 88 88 62
80 Reno, NV 64.84 77 72 86
81 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 64.82 78 86 73
82 Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA 64.45 87 93 50
83 Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA 64.03 70 87 91
84 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 64.01 76 53 99
85 Ogden-Clearfield, UT 63.96 95 70 48
86 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 63.38 75 96 83
87 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 63.38 89 97 77
88 Boise, ID 63.00 86 82 90
89 Springfield, MA 62.55 97 79 70
90 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 62.22 71 75 98
91 Colorado Springs, CO 61.39 94 90 72
92 Salt Lake City, UT 61.34 99 84 69
93 Provo-Orem, UT 61.09 100 98 42
94 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 59.82 91 92 93
95 Honolulu, HI 59.76 90 91 100
96 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 59.75 98 94 85
97 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 58.72 83 99 94
98 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 58.45 96 81 96
99 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 58.16 93 89 97
100 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 57.51 92 100 92

Artwork-2019-Fattest-Cities-Final-V2

Ask the Experts

Fighting obesity requires a multi-level approach. We turned to a panel of experts for the best ways to address the problem, from the personal to policy level. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

  1. What are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?
  2. What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
  3. What is the impact of obesity on the economy and worker productivity?
  4. Should employers play a role in helping workers maintain a healthy lifestyle? How?
  5. What policies should government pursue to fight obesity and lower the cost of health care?

Methodology

In order to determine the fattest cities in America, WalletHub compared 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas across three key dimensions: 1) Obesity & Overweight, 2) Health Consequences and 3) Food & Fitness.

We evaluated those dimensions using 19 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “fattest.” Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available only at the state level.

We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Obesity & Overweight – Total Points: 60

  • Share of Overweight Adults: Full Weight (~13.33 Points)
  • Share of Obese Adults: Full Weight (~13.33 Points)
  • Share of Overweight Teenagers: Half* Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: “Teenagers” includes 9th through 12th grade students.
  • Share of Obese Teenagers: Half* Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: “Teenagers” includes 9th through 12th grade students.
  • Share of Overweight Children: Half* Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: “Children” includes persons aged 10 to 17.
  • Share of Obese Children: Half* Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: “Children” includes persons aged 10 to 17.
  • Projected Obesity Rates by 2030: Half* Weight (~6.67 Points)

Health Consequences – Total Points: 25

  • Share of Adults with High Cholesterol: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
  • Share of Diabetic Adults: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
  • Share of Adults with High Blood Pressure: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
  • Heart-Disease Rate: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
  • Obesity-Related Death Rate: Half* Weight (~2.78 Points)

Food & Fitness – Total Points: 15

  • Share of Adults with Low Fruit/Vegetable Consumption: Full Weight (~1.50 Points)
    Note: This metric refers to the share of adults who consume fruit and vegetables less than one time per day.
  • Share of Residents Who Say They Eat Healthy: Full Weight (~1.50 Points)
  • Limited Access to Healthy Food: Full Weight (~1.50 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of urban-area residents who earn a low income and live more than 1 mile from a grocery store or supermarket.
  • Share of Physically Inactive Adults: Full Weight (~1.50 Points)
  • City Friendliness toward an Active Lifestyle: Quadruple Weight (~6.00 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on data from WalletHub’s Best & Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle ranking.
  • Access to Parks & Recreational Facilities: Full Weight (~1.50 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of individuals who live reasonably close to a location for physical activity – parks or recreational facilities.
  • Number of Health Educators and Community Health Workers per Capita: Full Weight (~1.50 Points)
    Note: Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities.

Videos for News Use:

 
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, County Health Rankings, United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Gallup-Sharecare, Trust for America’s Health and WalletHub research.

Image: margouillat photo / Shutterstock.com

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