The Fittest and Fattest Cities in America


The 25 Fattest Cities:

1. Houston 2. Detroit 3. Cleveland 4. Memphis 5. Tampa 6. Las Vegas 7. El Paso 8. Baltimore 9. Los Angeles 10. Louisville 11. Tulsa 12. Miami 13. Indianapolis 14. Philadelphia 15. Arlington 16. Columbus 17. Charlotte 18. Phoenix 19. New Orleans 20. Atlanta 21. Raleigh 22. Kansas City 23. St. Louis 24. Chicago 25. Dallas

Are people giving up on staying fit? It’s been three years since we last rounded up America’s fittest and fattest cities, and obesity rates have worsened in that time span at an alarming rate. We’re not sure whether there’s a correlation with our current economic woes, but 33.8% of American adults are now obese. In fact, the last time we tried this, fewer than six states had an obesity rate above 30%. That number is now up to 12. We think there’s hope, though. The fitness industry is booming, at least when it comes to innovation, and enrollment in user-friendly programs like CrossFit and P90X have increased exponentially so far this decade. There’s still work to be done, however.

Fattest City: Houston

We’ll spare you the predictable Texas-size jokes, but one thing Houston seems to maintain—and expand yearly—is the circumference of its collective paunch. Fine, we threw one in anyway, but it couldn’t be helped, because, according to the CDC, a whopping 34% of H-Town residents are overweight. In previous surveys we’d claimed Houston was on the upswing in the weight-loss department, but there’s evidently been a bit of a regression since we last checked in. It could be the heat. Houston typically suffers through a hundred or more days each year with temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, combined with relative humidity that rivals Manila’s. The city’s average commute—27.5 minutes, primarily by car since Houston lacks a comprehensive mass-transit system—also plays a major role in keeping Houstonians seated and sedentary. “It’s just not a place that’s conducive to getting out and doing stuff,” says longtime resident Kent Martin, a competitive runner and MMA coach, “and that’s because of the humidity. It’s brutal here in the summer.”

Most Overweight Cities Cities (Percentage of residents that are overweight):

Phoenix(41.1) El Paso (41.1) Cleveland (40.9) San Jose (39.1) Baltimore (38.4) Most Obese Cities (Percentage of residents that are obese): Memphis (35.8) Arlington (35.3) Dallas (33.8) Detroit (33.1) New Orleans (32.6)

Unhealthy Facts

City with the Most Fast-Food Joints: Houston (1,034) Everything’s bigger in Texas, and drive-thrus may be to blame. (City with fewest: Boston) Biggest Buttheads: 24.3% of Tulsans in Oklahoma are smokers (but only 8% of San Jose residents light up. Pains, Trains, & Automobiles: Big-city commuters spend the most time getting to and from work. City that has the Shortest Commute Time: Wichita 17.9 minutes Tulsa (18.3) Omaha (18.6). And the longest: New York 39.1 minutes, Chicago (33.8) Philadelphia (31.8)

The most sex: Los Angeles (9) 135 times a year, according to Trojan.

Bottoms Up: The heaviest drinkers live in San Antonio. 8.2% have at least two drinks per day.

Fittest City: Portland

Portlandia is all about friendship. It’s a friendly place: fitness-friendly, walk-friendly, diet- friendly, and friendly to everything else that entails getting outside and moving around. It’s especially friendly to cyclists. A perennial favorite on lists of America’s top cycling cities, Portland is the only burg on our lists to earn a platinum distinction from the League of American Cyclists.

The 25 Fittest Cities:

1. Portland 2. San Francisco 3. Albuquerque 4. Oakland 5. Boston 6. Seattle 7. Denver 8. San Diego 9. Minneapolis 10. Honolulu 11. Tucson 12. Austin 13. Colorado Springs 14. San Jose 15. Omaha 16. Washington 17. Milwaukee 18. Virginia Beach 19. Sacramento 20. Jacksonville 21. New york 22. Wichita 23. Oklahoma City 24. Nashville 25. San Antonio

In fact, 6.1% of all male residents ride their bikes to work, by far the highest ratio of any U.S. city. Portland isn’t just about cycling, though: 54.7% of adults in the Rose City perform at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days per week. Temperatures rarely sink below freezing in winter months, and air quality and ozone levels are nearly perfect. Portlanders simply don’t like staying inside. Would you? As the top-ranked locale in our Healthy City index, it makes sense that, according to the CDC,40.3% of Portland residents weigh in within healthy parameters. Fresh air, fresh food, a thriving fitness culture—and easy access to world class health care—make Portland tops.

Fit Facts from the Fittest Cities:

Number of Cities with Zero High ozone days: 3 (San Francisco, Omaha, and Honolulu) The Coldest City: Colorado springs 161—mean number of days below 32° The most active city: San Diego — 54.5% do at least one core fitness activity (yoga, swimming, kickboxing, etc.) more than 50 times a year Healthiest Cities (Percentage of residents with a healthy body weight): San Francisco (44.8) Oakland (44.8) Honolulu (43.9) Albuquerque (43.3) Boston (43.2) Oklahoma City made a huge turnaround after getting mentioned on our Fattest Cities list, and became out biggest Success Story. In Oakland: More than 90% are smoke-free. Albuquerque has 67.5 acres of Parkland per 1,000 residents In Austin 31.1% of residents are cardio fanatics Washington, D.C. is the happiest city in America, according to a Gallup survey Boston: Bostonians spend 92% less than the national average on Fast Food, according to Bundle Minneapolis is ranked by Sperling’s Best Places as the best place for restful sleep In San Francisco, 30.6% of resident eat veggies at least five times a day

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