These Are the Fattest and Fittest Cities in America

WalletHub ranked 100 metro areas according to factors such as access to nutritious food and low rates of disease and obesity.
(Photo: Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)
Mar 26, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

With processed foods making up roughly half the modern American diet and a lack of safe, green space for folks to exercise, it’s no wonder the United States tends to land at the top of annual lists of the most obese countries.

But with various municipalities ramping up access to farmers markets and making it easier to walk and bike, residents of some cities are healthier than others. A new report from personal finance website WalletHub reveals just how wide the disparities in well-being are among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas.

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To come up with the rankings for 2016’s Fattest Cities in America, WalletHub analyzed health data from a half dozen sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Although the report uses the word fattest, the company wrote that it “takes a more holistic approach to problems related to weight by not only accounting for both ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ residents, but also including a total of 14 key metrics.” Those 14 factors fall into three broad categories: fat prevalence, weight-related problems, and healthy environment.

Fat prevalence, which WalletHub defines as the percentage of overweight and obese children, teenagers, and adults, made up 50 percent of each city’s score. Weight-related problems—such as how much daily exercise adults get, the percentage of adults eating fewer than one serving of fruits and vegetables per day, and the percentage of adults with diabetes or high blood pressure—was another 30 percent. Healthy environment, such as whether residents have access to nutritious food, completed the final 20 percent.

Given those factors, Memphis, Tennessee, is the fattest metro area in the nation. Memphis has the highest percentage of obese adults and physically inactive adults and the second-highest percentage of folks with diabetes. The Shreveport-Bossier City area in Louisiana came in second, and the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana, metro area was third. The rest of the top 10 are all cities in the South—which is home to the states with the highest poverty rates in the nation. Meanwhile, Honolulu was ranked the least fat city, with Reno, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho, rounding out the top three.

Along with the physical toll of weight-related health issues, the economic costs of obesity are also significant. U.S. residents fork over about $315.8 billion annually for obesity-related medical expenses, according to the report. So where does your hometown rank? Click on the graphic below to see how your city stacks up—the larger the number, the fitter it is.