Healthcare Business

America's Fattest Cities

5. Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md.-W.Va
> Obesity rate: 33.4%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 33.8% (26th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 49.7% (30th lowest)

> Poverty rate: 13.6% (84th lowest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 19.2% (81st lowest)

Hagerstown residents rated poorly for practicing healthy behaviors. Less than 61% of those surveyed ate healthy all day, and less than half exercised regularly — both worse than the majority of metro areas. However, respondents were nearly as likely to report access to affordable, healthy food as most Americans, and were more likely to report they had access to a safe place to exercise. As of 2011, just 19.2% of adult residents were college graduates, versus 28.5% nationally. Hagerstown was among the top 20% nationwide for diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks and high cholesterol rates.

Also Read: Americas Most Content (and Miserable) Cities

4. Mobile, Ala.
> Obesity rate: 33.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 35.6% (12th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.6% (86th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.4% (84th highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 20.2% (102nd lowest)

The Mobile metropolitan areas is poorer than most, which may contribute to its high obesity. The poverty rate in 2011 of 19.4%, while far from the highest, was well above the 15.9% across the country. Meanwhile, the median household income of $42,372 was more than $8,000 less than the national median. Worse, only 71.4% of the population said they had all the money they needed to buy food at all times in the past 12 months, less than all but two other metropolitan areas. Approximately 35.6% of the population were told they had high blood pressure, while 14.1% of the population were diagnosed with diabetes, both among the highest percentages of all metro areas surveyed.

3. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
> Obesity rate: 34.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 37.3% (5th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.7% (87th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (118th lowest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 27.9% (132nd highest)

Just 58.9% of Little Rock area residents claimed they ate healthy all day, one of the lowest rates in the United States. The lack of healthy eating may partially be attributable to the fact that large parts of Little Rock do not have nearby access to healthy, affordable food. Like many metro areas, the high obesity rate likely has contributed to the area residents’ poor overall health. More than 37% of the adult population has been told they have high blood pressure, the fifth-highest percentage of all metro areas. More than 28% of the adult population had recurring pain in the knee or leg, among the highest of all metro areas surveyed.

2. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va., Ky.
> Obesity rate: 37.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 43.3% (the highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 46.5% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.9% (72nd highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 18.8% (74th lowest)

Only 67% of those surveyed in the Huntington area stated they had no health problems preventing them from participating in normal activities, tied for the worst percentage in the nation with Charleston, W.Va. Just 77% of residents stated they had enough energy to do what they wanted in the past day, also the lowest percentage in the nation. Additionally, more than 43% of residents had high blood pressure, while 8.9% of those surveyed had experienced a heart attack, in both cases the highest rates in the nation. Just 87.5% of residents claimed they had access to a safe place to exercise, one of the lowest rates in the country.

Also Read: America’s Nine Most Damaged Brands

1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
> Obesity rate: 38.5%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 26.6% (57th lowest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.2% (79th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 37.7% (the highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 16.0% (30th lowest)

McAllen was the fattest metropolitan area in the country in 2012, with 38.5% of the adult population considered obese. The high obesity rate has likely contributed to area residents’ poor health. More than 21% of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes, more than any other metro area in the United States. Poverty may play a large role in the community’s health problems as well. The metro region had the highest poverty rate in the country, with 37.7% of the population living below the poverty line in 2011. More than 17% of the population also lacked health coverage that year, among the highest of all U.S. metro areas. The vast majority of the McAllen metro area is located in a food desert, indicating a severe lack of access to healthy foods for residents.