In order to screen weight categories, Body Mass Index (BMI) is used. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters (kg/m2). A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fat but is not definite, as it does not take into consideration muscle mass.
BMI can be used for population assessment of overweight and obesity. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered to be overweight and a BMI of 30 or greater is considered to be obese.
Obesity is considered to be an epidemic in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 71.6% of adult Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese and 39.8% are obese.
Bodyweight is the result of several factors, including diet choices, lack of physical activity overeating, metabolism, culture, and genetics. Americans are more likely to consume fast food and processed pre-packaged foods. These foods tend to have higher calories and fewer nutrients, causing people to consume more calories in combination with a lack of physical activity. This leads to fat and weight gain over time.
Obesity is linked to many health complications and diseases, such as nerve damage, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is the second-leading cause of preventable death behind tobacco use.
Because culture does play a role in body weight, certain states and cities in the U.S. have significantly higher rates of overweight and obesity. In order to determine the fattest cities in America, WalletHub compared 100 of the most populated metro areas using three dimensions: obesity and overweight, health consequences, and food and fitness. Nineteen metrics were graded on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the “fattest.”
The ten fattest cities in America are:
- McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
- Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
- Memphis, TN-MS-AR
- Jackson, MS
- Mobile, AL
- Tulsa, OK
- Knoxville, TN
- Toledo, OH
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC
According to this data, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area in Texas is the fattest in America. This metro area ranks first for the highest percentage of obese adults and the highest percentage of physically inactive adults, as well as ranks third for the highest percentage of diabetic (type 2) adults.
A majority of the fattest metro areas are located in the South and the Midwest. The metro areas at the bottom of the list were mostly located in the West and the Northeast.
WalletHub’s full list of findings and methodology can be found here.