By Angela Haupt
If you want to be skinny, surround yourself with skinny. A Gallup-Healthways poll released last week reveals that, overall, our nation's cities are getting fatter. But the 10 least-obese areas are bucking that trend, with an average obesity rate of 15.9 percent, well below the national average of 26.1, and half that of the country's fattest areas.
So what are places like San Francisco and Naples, Fla., doing right? They offer easy access to fresh fruits and veggies, as well as safe places to exercise, say experts. And their residents have health insurance and make enough money to buy wholesome food for themselves and for their families. What's more, says cardiologist James Pope, chief science officer of Healthways, a Tennessee-based provider of health and wellness programs offered through health insurers, "people are less likely to become obese if their friends and acquaintances are not obese." In other words, healthful living can be contagious.
[See: In Pictures: 10 Fattest Cities in America.]
And it's good to be a slim city. These areas report roughly 30 percent fewer cases of diabetes than do their obese counterparts. And people in fat cities are 58 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 34 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, 30 percent more likely to be depressed, and 23 percent more likely to have high cholesterol over the course of their lifetime, the new findings suggest.
The 10 least obese metro areas in the United States are:
|2011 Least Obese Metro Areas|
|Metro Area||% Obese|
|Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.||14.6|
|Barnstable Town, Mass.||15.9|
|Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.||16.4|
|Naples-Marco Island, Fla.||16.5|
|Colorado Springs, Colo.||17.4|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.||17.5|
|Source: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index|