Healthcare Economy

This Is America's Most Obese City

Obesity status is determined by body mass index, or BMI — a ratio of height to body weight. Americans with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, breathing problems, certain cancers, and mortality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity can also detract from the overall quality of life and contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

A new study from the CDC shows that last year, 35% or more adults had obesity in 16 states. Most were in the South and Midwest. In some states, the figure was closer to 40%. Data show that the numbers are highest among the poor and some ethnic groups. A different CDC report showed that the annual medical cost of obesity was $147 billion in 2008. Every single yardstick of obesity in America shows that it is getting worse.

Though many factors, including genetics, diet, and medical conditions, contribute to the increased risk of obesity, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to help maintain a healthy weight.

Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 24/7 Tempo identified the most obese metropolitan areas in the United States. The U.S. has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.

The most obese city in America is Danville, Illinois. Here are the details:

  • Adult obesity rate: 43.2%
  • Adults who don’t exercise: 29.0% (63rd highest of 384 metros)
  • Adults with diabetes: 12.4% (110th highest)
  • Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.1% (90th highest)

Methodology: To determine America’s most obese metro, 24/7 Tempo reviewed county-level adult obesity rates from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.

The adult obesity rate is defined as the share of adults 20 years and older who report a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher. We aggregated county-level statistics to metropolitan statistical areas. While the CHR report is from 2021, obesity rate figures published in the report are from 2017.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.

Metros were ranked based on the adult obesity rate. Additional information on the share of adults who report no leisure-time physical activity, the share of adults diagnosed with diabetes, and the share of adults who report fair or poor health are also from the 2021 CHR.

Click here to see all of America’s most obese metro areas.