By LIZ FIELDS
New research has revealed national obesity rates are at an all-time high, with Huntington-Ashland, W.Va., identified as the country's fattest city and Boulder, Colo., labelled America's thinnest.
The study, conducted by Gallup and Healthways between January 2012 and December 2013, found that more than 15 percent of adults are obese in all but one of the 189 cities surveyed. It also found that last year, the national obesity rate increased to 27.1 percent, which is the highest on record since the annual surveys began in 2008.
The surveys were conducted for the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tracks obesity levels across the country using Americans' Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. The indexes are calculated based on a person's self-reported height and weight radio, with scores of 30 or above considered obese.
At least 300 adults participated in each of the metropolitan areas surveyed. The sample sizes for each city varied and were weighted depending on the "demographic characteristics" of that area.
Out of the 10 most obese cities in the country, Huntington-Ashland topped the list, with nearly two in five residents being obese. The city has consistently scored high among the 10 most obese cities in the country since 2008.
The 10 most obese cities (by percentage):
Huntington-Ashland, Oh. (39.5);
McCallen, Texas (38.3);
Haggerstown, Md. (36.7);
Yakima, Wash. (35.7);
Little Rock, Ark. (35.1);
Charlestown, W. Va. (34.6);
Toledo, Ohio (34.2);
Clarksville, Tenn. (33.8);
Jackson, Miss. (33.8); and
Green Bay, Wis. (33.0);
The list of thinnest cities was headed by Boulder, Colo., which has a 12.4 percent obesity rate. Three other Colorado cities also featured among the 10 communities with the lowest obesity rates, which Gallup attributes to the state's vast "outdoor spaces and activities," that helps promote residents' active lifestyles.
The 10 least obese cities (by percentage):
Boulder, Colo. (12.4);
Naples, Fla. (16.5);
Fort Collins, Colo. (18.2);
Charlottesville, Va. (18.2);
Bellingham, Wash. (18.7);
San Diego, Calif. (19.3);
Denver, Colo. (19.3);
San Jose, Calif. (19.5);
Bridgeport, Conn. (19.6); and
Barnstable Town, Mass. (19.6).
The study found that obesity rates are rising and hit a national high last year, which the survey organizers attribute to poorer eating habits in 2013.
The survey organizers said programs to help people make healthy eating choices and to encourage them to lead active lifestyles could help reduce obesity rates in communities around the country.
"Rising obesity rates have significant health consequences," said Janna Lacatell, Healthways Lifestyle Solutions Director. "In order to combat the trend and encourage individuals to make healthier choices, community-based policy and environmental approaches can, and should, be used."