After a recent study reported one-third of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, WalletHub set out to investigate which American cities have the highest prevalence of obesity and health problems associated with bad diets and a sedentary lifestyle.
The website analyzed 100 of the most populated metro regions in the country and ranked them according to:
• weight related health problems, such as: heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, unbalanced diet, physical inactivity, and obesity-related death rates;
• healthy environments that promote an active lifestyle, good nutrition, and access to parks and recreational facilities; and
• obese and overweight people (adults, teenagers, and children).
Each city was given a score based on 17 different metrics, as well as an overall score highlighting the average assessment of the three key indicators.
The study revealed Jackson, Mississippi, as the fattest city in the United States, and also the one with the highest number of diabetic adults and one of the largest share of physically inactive residents in the entire country.
As one would expect in a ranking of unhealthy behaviors, the study's biggest winners are found at the bottom of the list. The healthiest people in America live in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (Washington), and are also among the most active adults in the United States.
2017's Top 10 Fattest Cities According To WalletHub
1. Jackson, Mississippi
2. Memphis, Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas
3. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas
4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
5. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
6. Chattanooga, Tennessee-Georgia
7. Mobile, Alabama
8. Lafayette, Louisiana
9. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
10. Knoxville, Tennessee
Highest Obesity Rates
No. 6 in the overall ranking, Chattanooga, was found to have the highest percentage of overweight adults, followed by Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade (California), Anchorage (Alaska), Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (Connecticut), and Ashville (North Carolina).
The highest percentage of obese adults live in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, which also ranked first as the most sedentary city. The second highest obesity rate was reported in Memphis, closely followed by Shreveport-Bossier City, then Wichita (Kansas), and San Antonio-New Braunfels (Texas).
El Paso (Texas) is home to the third most physically inactive people, after McAllen-Edinburg-Mission and Jackson. Three Arkansas cities share the fourth position in the country's topmost sedentary regions - Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Conway - while Tulsa (Oklahoma) came in at No. 5.
The Unhealthiest Cities In America
As far as weight-related diseases are concerned, WalletHub discovered high cholesterol is most prevalent in Youngstown-Warren-Boardman (Ohio-Pennsylvania), Lexington-Fayette (Kentucky), and Shreveport-Bossier City. High scores on the hypercholesterolemia chart were also given to four North Carolina cities: Winston, Salem, Greensboro, and High Point.
The top five U.S. cities plagued by diabetes are Jackson, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Canton-Massillon (Ohio), Memphis, and Augusta-Richmond County (Georgia-South Carolina).
The city most affected by hypertension is Mobile. Residents in Shreveport-Bossier City, Memphis, Jackson, and Chattanooga are next in line according to the study's high blood pressure ranking.
Southerners were also found to be the least preoccupied with healthy diets, as the people in Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Jackson, Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Birmingham-Hoover (Alabama), and Columbia (South Carolina) eat less than one serving of fruits and vegetables per day.