You Could Be Destined for Obesity if You Live in One of These Cities
It’s no secret Americans are obese. We’re statistically the most overweight country in the world, and certain cities literally take the cake for high rates of obesity, the prevalence of diabetes, and little-to-no physical activity.
These are the 15 “fattest” cities in America according to a 2018 WalletHub comparison of 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas. We looked into why these cities may top the list. Read on to find out if your hometown may be to blame for your weight gain, and who took the number one spot for “fattest city” (page 15).
15. Tie: Louisville, Kentucky and Jefferson County, Indiana
Kentucky and Indiana are among the worst U.S. states for obesity. The state of Indiana rates 8th worst for obese residents, while Kentucky tops it just slightly at number seven. The University of Louisville has an entire center dedicated to research and prevention tactics on diabetes and obesity.
Louisville is known for many southern comfort food choices, among them Hot Brown, also known as “a heart attack on a plate.” The indulgent meal includes crisped toast topped with turkey, tomatoes, creamy parmesan Mornay sauce, and bacon slices.
Next: Some call this city one of the top ‘southern food hotspots.’
14. Greenville, South Carolina
According to SCaledown, an organization dedicated to educating South Carolinians on obesity, two out of every three South Carolina residents are overweight or obese. The fifth largest city in South Carolina holds the fourteenth-largest overweight population in the U.S. and is second to one other South Carolina city for obesity rates (page 5).
Greenville has recently been dubbed a hotspot “Southern food city” and boasts indulgent delicacies like the best barbecue, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp and grits.
Next: Nothing like a good crawfish boil.
13. Lafayette, Louisiana
In addition to ranking as the 13th highest fattest city in the U.S., Lafayette has the second largest percentage of physically inactive adults. A Lafayette resident told KLFY news why she agreed. “We have a lot of good boudins and good food here, so I’m not that surprised,” Diana Mouton said.
Acadiana Nutrition Group Dietitian Yvette Quantz agreed, claiming the “rich culture of the area” promotes far less healthy foods than it does social eating. “It makes it harder if you think you have to have a diet and can’t be social, or it’s all or nothing and that’s not the case,” she said. Lafayette also reportedly has more restaurants per capita than any other American city.
Next: A large percentage of these adults are sedentary — could you be among them?
12. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga ties with Lafayette for cities with the second highest percentage of physically inactive adults. It has the fourth highest percentage of diabetic adults as well as the fifth highest for adults with high blood pressure.
The State of Obesity reports that Tennessee’s obesity rate rose nearly 14% in the last 17 years and currently over one-third of Tennessee residents are obese. Chattanooga certainly contributes to these rates — it is home to the MoonPie, after all. Top food destinations in the city include Main Street Meat’s pork rinds and the Main Street Market’s locally-made cheeses and buttery bread.
Next: This city enforced an ‘obesity action plan.’
11. Columbia, South Carolina
South Carolina’s capital city is home to more than the state’s history: it also has one of the highest percentages of adults who rarely consume veggies and fruits and the 11th highest overweight and obese population nationwide.
In 2014, South Carolina unveiled their Statewide Obesity Action Plan. According to Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton, “Obesity kills the most people in South Carolina, makes the most people sick, and if prevented would save the most money in healthcare costs.”
Next: More than one-third of this state’s adults are obese.
10. Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington has one of the highest percentages of adults with high cholesterol. A 2017 study reported that more than one-third of Kentucky adults are obese. The state, whose name is essentially synonymous with fried chicken, boasts southern comfort food that contributes to its residents’ health — or lack thereof.
Childhood obesity rates are alarmingly high in Kentucky as well: 33.5% of 10- to 17-year-olds are overweight or obese.
Next: This city was once the most obese.
9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge was deemed the most obese city in America in 2015. It now falls at number nine, according to the WalletHub study, and has the third highest percentage of adults who shirk their fruits and vegetables.
The Louisiana city is known for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, hefty southern breakfast foods, and crawfish boils. Over 12.5% of Louisiana adults have diabetes and 39% have hypertension — both of these diseases’ risk factors include obesity.
Next: This city’s residents reportedly prefer corndogs to vegetables.
8. Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and home to a 66% overweight and obese population. It’s no wonder that their adults are some of the lowest consumers of fruits and vegetables according to the WalletHub study.
The self-dubbed “food town” boasts favorites like buttermilk-fried chicken, corndogs, and chicken and waffles.
Next: The most overweight and obese city in 2017.
7. Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson makes multiple lists, and none of them indicate good news for the overweight population. Mississippi’s capital has one of the highest numbers of adults with high blood pressure and one of the lowest numbers of adults who regularly eat leafy greens.
Last year’s WalletHub study listed Jackson as the most overweight and obese city in the U.S. It scored three out of a possible 15 points this year for ‘Food & Fitness.’ This reflects the low percentage of adults who feel they have easy access to healthy food, recreational activities, and that their city encourages a healthy lifestyle.
Next: This city received a grant to prevent childhood obesity.
6. Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville 0nly scored two out of 60 for WalletHub’s ‘Overweight & Obesity’ ranking. This indicates that the city has a large share of obese adults, teenagers, and children. The low ranking also reflects how the experts project obesity rates will rise in the city.
The United States Conference of Mayors awarded Knoxville a $120,000 grant to combat childhood obesity. The six cities selected, including Knoxville, were selected for their “outstanding programs that encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.”
Next: This city implemented ‘National Walk at Lunch Day.’
5. Mobile, Alabama
Obesity has a significant correlation to high blood pressure, and Mobile, Arizona has the highest percentage of adults with high blood pressure out of all the surveyed U.S. states. Mobile county promoted a “National Walk at Lunch Day” in 2015 after reports showed Mobile’s obesity rates were increasing and their health behaviors ranking was incredibly low.
Sports Illustrated listed some of Mobile’s top culinary spots which showcased dishes like duck jambalaya, 30-hour smoked pork, and oil-soaked Brussels sprouts.
Next: This bodybuilder beat childhood obesity despite his hometown.
4. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis has the second highest percentage of overweight and obese adults nationwide as well as the third highest number of adults with high blood pressure. The State of Obesity reported in 2017 that childhood obesity rates leveled at 17% over the last decade in the U.S. By comparison, Tennessee’s average obesity rate was between 20 and 24.9% for children 10- to 17-years-old.
An aspiring Memphis body-builder, Landon Jividen, told the Memphis Mirror how he made the switch to healthy eating. “I grew up [in] the outskirts of Memphis where the norm was either fast food or something entirely diabetic,” he said. “Making the switch was challenging, but I lost a ton of weight and will never go back.”
Next: The third fattest city has the highest obesity rate in Texas.
3. McAllen, Texas
McAllen, Texas has the highest percentage of inactive adults and overweight/obese adults nationwide. It also has the second largest number of diabetic adults. The McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission region of Texas has the highest rate of obesity out of the state’s nine regions.
The largest number of overweight Texans — 38.9% of them — are 45- to 64-years-old. The Texas Department of State Health Services created the Obesity Prevention Program in 2013, but last updated it in 2016.
Next: The second fattest city boasts some seriously unhealthy iconic foods.
2. Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport makes the lists of states with the highest populations of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressured adults. The second “fattest” city nationwide ranked first in WalletHub’s 2015 report but has since fallen to second. Shreveport and Bossier cities site beignets, fried catfish, and Ice Box pie among their most iconic foods.
Next: The ‘fattest city’ in America.
1. Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock scored ‘1’ for both ‘Food & Fitness’ and ‘Health Consequences’ on WalletHub’s scale. This means that few residents felt Little Rock allotted resources to help them eat well and stay fit. It also means the city has one of the highest numbers of adults with diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity-related deaths.
Little Rock adults eat the least vegetables of the surveyed cities, are among the top five physically inactive, and have one of the highest percentages of diabetes.
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