Obesity rates are above 15 percent in all but one of the 189 communities surveyed by Gallup and Healthways, despite the goal set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 program.
In fact, according to their survey, the U.S. obesity rate as a whole rose to 27.1 percent, which is the highest rate recorded nationwide since Gallup and Healthways began tracking in 2008.
The most obese communities reflected the state rankings which found Mississippi and West Virginia to be the most obese states. For the communities with the highest rates of obesity, two in five residents are obese.
Most Obese U.S. Communities
- Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH – 39.5 percent
- McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX – 38.3 percent
- Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV – 36.7 percent
- Yakima, WA – 35.7 percent
- Little Rock-N Little Rock-Conway, AR – 35.1 percent
- Charleston, WV – 34.6 percent
- Toledo, OH – 34.2 percent
- Clarksville, TN-KY – 33.8 percent
- Jackson, MS – 33.8 percent
- Green Bay, WI – 33.0 percent
- Rockford, IL – 33.0 percent
If Mississippi is the most obese state, Colorado is certainly the least. Three of the states’ metro areas are listed in the top ten communities with the lowest obesity rates. In fact, Boulder is the only community below the 15 percent mark, and has had the lowest obesity rate every year since polling began in 2008, with the exception of 2009.
Least Obese U.S. Communities
- Boulder, CO – 12.4 percent
- Naples-Marco Island, FL – 16.5 percent
- Fort Collins-Loveland, CO – 18.2 percent
- Charlottesville, VA – 18.7 percent
- Bellingham, WA – 18.7 percent
- San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA – 19.3 percent
- Denver-Aurora, CO – 19.3 percent
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA – 19.5 percent
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT – 19.6 percent
- Barnstable Town, MA – 19.6 percent
Gallup and Healthways are calling for a focus on lowering obesity rates at a local level, which could help reduce overall obesity rates and lead to a healthier population.
“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,” said Janna Lacatell, Healthways Lifestyle Solutions Director in a statement.
“In order to combat the trend and encourage individuals to make healthier choices, community-based policy and environmental approaches can, and should, be used.”