Houston Tops Fattest City List

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Pity poor Houston — dubbed the fattest city in the country for the third year in a row by Men's Fitness magazine. On the other end of the spectrum, Honolulu tops the list of fittest cities.

The rankings appear in the February issue, on stands Monday.

Enough already, say some Houston residents. John Foreyt, an obesity researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, doesn't think picking on a few cities is wise when the entire country is heavy.

"We all have to look at what we can do about this epidemic of obesity that's raging throughout this country and throughout the world," Foreyt says.

Government statistics show that almost 65% of adults in this country weigh too much; about 31% are obese, which is 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and some types of cancer.

Editor in chief Jerry Kindela says the magazine wants to draw attention to the fact that the country has gotten fatter. "It's frightening. We are supersizing ourselves into the hospital," Kindela says. "Our goal is to get everybody talking and get everybody moving."

To put together the lists, Men's Fitness looked at the nation's 50 largest cities and ranked them with more than a dozen equally weighted categories, including total number of clubs/gyms/sporting goods stores; fruit and vegetable consumption; alcohol and tobacco use; air and water quality; and parks and recreation facilities.

Some of the magazine's comments on the five fattest cities:

- Houston. Given the region's climate (hot and humid), air quality (abysmal) and relative lack of outdoor recreation, staying active presents a Texas-style challenge. The city does have an ongoing Get Lean Houston campaign.
- Chicago. The windy city blows it in terms of weather, commute time, open spaces, and poor air and water quality.
- Detroit. The only time Detroiters run is when someone offers them fruits and vegetables, the magazine says.
- Philadelphia. The city was dubbed the fattest in 2000, and since then the mayor and the city's health and fitness czar embarked on an ambitious anti-lard crusade.
- St. Louis. Waistlines here are probably as well-rounded as the Gateway Arch, because most menus consist of burgers and beer. The city has the highest ratio of fast-food joints per capita in the survey. Ditto for bars and taverns.

The magazine on the fittest cities:

- Honolulu. An attractive climate and the cleanest air in the survey get people moving.
- Seattle. The moderate climate encourages people to get moving. More than 35% of the residents walk for fun.
- San Francisco. Despite the hilly terrain and the chilly climate, recreational walking is enjoyed by more than 40% of residents. Another favorite is yoga.
- Colorado Springs. The area has some of the lowest TV viewership and the highest scores for sports participation.
- San Diego. It has sunstruck climate, gorgeous parks and waterways, and tough anti-smoking laws.

The fattest cities:
1. Houston
2. Chicago
3. Detroit
4. Philadelphia
5. St. Louis
6. Cleveland
7. Atlanta
8. Columbus, Ohio
9. Dallas
10. Charlotte

The fittest cities:
1. Honolulu
2. Seattle
3. San Francisco
4. Colorado Springs
5. San Diego
6. Portland, Ore.
7. Denver
8. Virginia Beach
9. Tucson
10. Sacramento

Source: Men's Fitness magazine