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Obesity rates soar in some cities

You think where you live and who your friends are don’t affect your obesity rate, think again. Recent studies indicate individuals who live in metropolitan areas are much more likely to be obese. In fact, adult obesity rates are above 15% in all but one of the 189 metro areas that Gallup and Healthways surveyed in 2012 and 2013.



Cities in Colorado continue to rank lowest in terms of obesity with Boulder (12.4% obesity rate), Denver (19.3%) and Fort Collins (18.2%) as three of the ten cities with the lowest obesity rating. The other cities in the top ten include Naples, Florida; Charlottesville, VA.; Bellingham, Washington; San Diego, California; San Jose, California; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Factors that lower obesity rating


 

So what do the cities with the lowest obesity rating have in common? First, there are a high level of “well-to” Americans who have greater access to medical care, discretionary income, better foods and more time to exercise. Others may have a greater understanding of what they need to do to maintain a healthy weight.

One of the greatest factors, however, can also be good weather. Who wouldn’t want to get out and run along the beach in California or ski the Rockies in Colorado? Plus, the sheer number of individuals out doing physical activity can also be an incentive.

Cities with the highest obesity rating


 

What cities are most obese? According to a recent article in USAToday the following cities are the most obese: 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%).

The reasons these cities have a high level of obesity include more inclement weather conditions and lower income residents who have less time to exercise and less discretionary income to purchase high quality foods.

What do experts think needs to be done? There are no simple solutions. Moving to a better town could be one option but not everyone has this ability. Other ideas include helping individuals make healthier food choices, implementing good community-based policy and environmental approaches and encouraging the food industry to offer healthier choices. Ideas which are more controversial include increasing the penalties or costs for insurance for the obese or giving greater incentives to those willing to incorporate healthy activities.

Obesity and the costs to society


 

Unfortunately, not doing anything is not an option. According to experts, obesity costs our economy at least 215 billion dollars a year in direct and indirect impacts including medical expenses and lost productivity. These costs are billions more that what would be spent on healthy individuals.

With the renewed interest and political push from many Democrats to offer health insurance to everyone, the costs are likely to be staggering and more focus will shift to improving the health of everyone so the costs are not so great for a few.
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