Wake Up America, We Need to Get Healthy!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
So I must have been in a fog last month when Men’s Health Magazine released its top 100 list of the fattest cities in the United States for 2010. Sadly my home state of Texas had four of the top 10 fattest cities in the United States, with Dallas, of which I live in a suburb of, coming in at number four.

According to the magazine, the rankings were based on the percentage of overweight people, those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the fitness levels of the residents, how much money was spent on junk food, and the number of people who ate fast food nine or more times in one month.

I should not be surprised anymore, however, it does ring a bit of truth. This past weekend I decided to conduct my own little experiment as to the number of fast food eateries and parks that are within a five mile radius of my home. The city in which I live has a population that well exceeds 200,000 residents, but I was still shocked to discover the following facts:

  • Mc Donald’s -7
  • Sonic-7
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken-4
  • Wendy’s-4
  • Subway-4
  • Taco Bell-4
  • Taco Bueno-4
  • Pizza Hut-3
  • CiCi Pizza-3
  • Chick-fil-a-2
  • Burger King-2
I must add this does not include many sit-down restaurants such as Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and On the Border, in addition to restaurants with just one franchise in this radius, such as Firehouse Subs, Scotty P’s Hamburgers and Chipotle. So as you can see we are never short of finding some place to eat for any budget or variety of food you may desire.

However, when I look at the number of parks in this same 5 mile radius, there are less than 10. And many of these so-called parks are less than a couple of acres in size. Unfortunately, we have few walking trails and bike paths so one must travel by car to go to these places which means many of us don’t. When I count the number of gyms, there are less than 10 in this same five mile radiusl.

My challenge for all of us, but especially those who reside in the Lone Star State is for us to set the example for others to follow. We must get healthy or else we are going to pay the price in higher health care cost or a lower life expectancy.

Where does your city rank? Have you ever counted the number of restaurants in your town? Are you surprised at the number of establishments so close together?

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The city which is closest to me is #100 . . .pretty good I'd say. Report
How on earth did Minneapolis and St. Paul rank higher than New York City? We have tons of obese people in the Twin Cities Metro suburbs, and we have a driving culture. What I saw of NYC was that everyone walked everywhere. When I was in Manhattan, I hardly saw anyone that was overweight.

Is it our bike paths that saved us? I would still rank NYC as being healthier than the twin cities. Report
Yes, please get healthy....I cannot afford to pay for Obama's 'free' healthcare. Report
I don't live in a city, but the cities on the list in my state are 86, 92, & 93, so we are pretty good. There are not many fast food places in my town; in fact, I remember when we got a McDonald's. There is also no chain restaurants like olive garden, red lobster, etc. I'm glad I do not have to look at all these kinds of restaurants all the time around town. Report
Wow! Houston isn't #1 anymore! But at #9, we still have a long way to go. I am amazed at the number of restaurants in and around the city. I'm of the opinion that nobody cooks in this area (except me!). Report
I live in Kansas City, Missouri and our grade was an F Flunk. I am doing my part to get rid of the fat. Report
I was actually looking at Men's Health last night (yes, I steal my husbands mens health) and saw this article that the author of this blog is talking about. I am from the East side of Michigan originally and Detroit comes in 27th. I love live about an hour from Grand Rapids, MI which comes in 55th. It's frustrating to see that in these two larger cities not only are things pretty close in walking distance from each other (in the CITY, not the outskirts) but there are so many cars and just traveling to either it seems that you can never find a parking spot.So why if things are close and people live right there dont we just walk? The city i live in now, i admit, until recently I would drive a mile down the road instead of walking. But now that I know HOW CLOSE things are, walking from the outside of downtown to the other side of downtown is nothing but a great walk. Report
my city is #94 on the list. We do have hundreds of restaurants of all types within a 5 mile radius of my home. I live near an interstate and every exit has at least 4-5 places to eat at them. Report
Our town is small so we didn't make the list but we still have a fair amount of places in town to choose from. 3 pizza, 2 chinese, 2 small sit down restaurants and 1 Dunkin' Donuts. Our two sit down restaurants have limited hours so most of the time it's pizza or chinese.We do have a bike trail but no parks. Twenty minutes away, which is where I do most of my shopping and leisure activities, there are tons of fast food places and restaurants. Report
I am not sure I can count high enough to number the restaurants in my city and those adjacent to it. I have almost no friends that cook at home. Very few of them are healthy and they are always wondering why I am healthy. My spouse has health problems related to food and weight in his past. So, we eat at our own table 3 times a day most days. We keep him here in this world that way! Read all labels when shopping for food. You can't stay healthy any other way.
I am not sure I can count high enough to number the restaurants in my city and those adjacent to it. I have almost no friends that cook at home. Very few of them are healthy and they are always wondering why I am healthy. My spouse has health problems related to food and weight in his past. So, we eat at our own table 3 times a day most days. We keep him here in this world that way! Read all labels when shopping for food. You can't stay healthy any other way.
I live in a very, very small town. There are about 28,433 people living here now. We have 2 McDonalds, 1 Burger King, 1 Wendys, 1 Taco Bell, 4 pizza places, 2 roast beef places, 1 Frisch's, and 3 Subways. That's a lot of food for 28,000 people! Report
Well, I live near Cincinnati and our area has loads of parks and gyms around and a really great bike trail, but also many, many restaurants. There are a lot of choices, though and it's easier to find places that have better, healthier food, not just fast food if you want to eat out for a change. Report
My hometown didnt make it but of course we are a small town. We have two pizza inns, one pizza hut, one dominos, one little ceasars, one papa murphey hmmm no wonder our children are so overweight could it be parents are too busy to cook home cook healthy meals and just order pizza. Although we do have 3 subways which is where I try to teach my kids to eat if they are gona eat out. But we only have one gym and one curves. Of course the gym could cost you an arm and a leg so then you don't have the limbs to go and exercise.HAHAHAHA. Report
I live out in Kuna, ID about 20 mins from #76 Boise, ID. In my town we only have a few fast food restaurants and only 3 parks. Boise has fast food restaurants on all the corners. However, Boise also has a greenbelt, quite a few parks, and plenty of walking paths so it balances out. I am glad to see Idahoans getting healthy and look forward to a "A" rating Report
I've spent tons of time in Cleveland area on and on during my life..... There is absolutely no way that I believe that it deserves a "B" rating.

Sure it has plenty of nice parks scattered in and all around the city and suburbs BUT many/most get very little use these days compared to several decades ago. Maybe it deserved a good ranking back then BUT today it is a fat fat fat place.

After a horrific illness, I was at the worst weight of my life by far.....spent big chunk of time in Cleveland area and those people made me feel thin comparatively.

Much more obese there than the area I am this year, between two cities that rank in the 50's where people in both cities are in much better overall condition. In better shape despite McDonalds having to open in every single rinky dink suburb....Heaven forbid anyone should have to travel more than two miles to get some of their horrid food. The only time I've been in McD's in the past decade has been in turnpike restarea where I had no choice and even then I only got coffee and some ice.

Something has to be wrong with one or more of those couch-potato/junk-food studies that they used to come up with these ratings. Report
Wow! I live in Oregon and not one city of my state is listed. Makes sense to me as we promote lots of healthy eating, activity, and alternative lifestyles. We are also the Running capital of the world (Eugene home of NIKE) and Portland Oregon is rated the top best for Biking. Overall our state promotes healthy lifestyle despite all those unhealthy resturants. However, we have lots of fast foods that many of the top 100 have and there are quite a few reallllyyy oooobbbbeeesseee people out here too. I am surprise, Perhaps Oregon fell off the radar when this survey was done. But then who am i to say, Just Way to go Oregon! I hope other states legislatures take a hand in helping get their state off the top 100. Its gonna cost us all in the long run. Report
I live in a truly small town in northwest Nebraska. Of course we are not on the list. We do not have a single nationally franchised fast food place in town, but we still manage to eat. We have 2 locally owned drive ins, one for Hamburgers, shrimp & chicken, the other for barbecue beef or pork. You can get pizza by the slice at the gas 'n go. We have 2 sit down restaurants in town all year, and the nearby State Park restaurant plus a rural cowboy bunk house style eaterie open only in summer. You can easily do without a car for errands around town. I do it myself, tho I can only walk about 1 mi. per hour & use a rolling walker to do that. But most people, especially young people with kids, still drive. We have a trail, converted from an old railroad, that connects our town to the State Park & is used by hikers, bikers & horseback riders all summer. There are many more trails at that Park and at another a half hour away and more throughout the Pine Ridge that nestles around us within a few minutes drive. Fishing & hunting are common hobbies here. and people earn their livelihoods in active ways like farming & ranching. We are still often obese & many of us are type 2 diabetic. The basic diet is meat and starches, with high sugar desserts to round it out. Green salads arrived here over the past 30 years since I did. They are still not usual fare. Nor are green vegetables, other than peas. Report
Alrighty then, my city of El Paso is third....... how very very sad. I am from germany and every time I go 'home' I notice that there are hardly any large people. Mmmmmm make you think........ maybe I should move back... Report
My hometown of Chicago rates a whopping D+ and is #22 on the list. We've have tons of great food here, some on every street corner. Out here in the suburbs, there's still plenty of food, mostly chain restaurants with lots of drive-thru eating. Sadly, most parks with beautiful bike and walking paths are empty and accessible by car only! Report
I live in cananda but I have 4 close to me. Report
I'm in San Francisco, tied for #100 on the list. We have bike paths, jogging trails, access to beaches and beautiful public parks galore. I haven't owned a car in almost 3 years and walk and take the bus everywhere I go. There are fast food restaurants of course, but San Franciscans are "foodies" so independently-owned restaurants and fresh, organic, healthy cooking rules the day (plenty of sinful delights everywhere too,though!). Of course it's very expensive to live here, and people give SF a very hard time because of our politics - but I would argue that it's because of our politics that this city is so committed to healthy, active, environmentally conscious living. I work with tons of non-profits that are working hard to ensure that communities across the country have access to a healthier way of life (open spaces, walking trails, sidewalks) but it comes down to this: If you want better, you need to get active and vote for politicians who will commit to giving you better. You deserve it! Report
I'm in Arlington, Tx. #54
As a fellow Texan (Mid-Cities area between Ft. Worth & Dallas), I was not too surprised we were so high, especially considering the high population. What was even sadder was the Biggest Loser had the contestants visit the Dallas-Ft. Worth area saying we had five of the biggest ten, not four. Whichever it is, it's still too high. (Too many barbecues???) Not to make excuses, but with so much of Texas cities being spread out, particularly in the West Texas area, it's easy to understand (not excuse) why people drive rather than walk. But I agree -there needs to be more walking trails. We've certainly got the room for it!!! Report
Not only is fast food plentiful, everyone has a drive-thru so you don't even have to leave your vehicle to get your McFeast.

Sonic is BUILT around this concept (and has one of the least-healthy menus around).

If you don't feel like waddling to the car you can have just about anything delivered.

And people scream at you (from their car) if you have the nerve to ride a bicycle down the street! Report
This is so depressing. I live in Philadelphia and my family is in Baltimore. Philly is number 15 (with a D) and Baltimore is number 8 (with an F). I knew that Philly was pretty bad. We're known to have a lot of top notch restaurants. I guess we're paying for it now. Report
Seattle gets an A! , number 98 on the list. Report
Albuquerque. NM was voted #96 grade A and I think that's wrong--we're maybe a grade C. We made observations around town, schools, gyms, and restaurants, and saw a lot of obese people everywhere! Not just slightly overweight but morbily obese people--mainly at all-you-can eat places. Report
The closest city to me was #95 on the list. WooHoo! Fortunately, I live in mid-size town. Sure motivates me regardless though. Report
My town didn't make the list, but two cities in my state did, with the nearer of the two (76 miles away) earning a C+ while the further of the two (284 miles away) earned an A. Report
Mine isnt even listed.
But the one I could find closest to me is rated a B.
But I know I avoid these places I cant say much for my hubby.. Report
Seems impossible, but I live near #15 which rated a D, but it's about 1/2 way between #75 B- and #99 A+ !! Shocked. Report
For me a 5 mile radius doesn't mean I'll get there in 5 miles due to the way the roads are set up. Less then a mile is a road I call fast food row - McDonalds, Taco Bell, Chipotle(not real fast food but close), KFC, Loco Pollo, 2 Starbucks, a local pizza chain, Jack in the Box, Arbys, Baja Fresh, 5guys, Quizno's closed but another sandwich chain moved in, a few random restaurants, Baskin Robbins, there's a shopping center/mall with Taco Time and a number of other restaurants. Around the corner is Wendy's and just off the end of the road is Dairy Queen.
By the way I'm in a suburb of one of the top 15 fittest cities on that list. Report
This is the reason I don't like to eat out. I I make healthier choices by staying at home. Report
I was supprised that NC 's grades range B- to D-. The area I live in is a tourist trap. When I googled my area we have 59 resturants and fast food places in the matter of 25 miles. Being I live on an island that is a huge amount. In the off season we have about 4,000 residents. Report
Orlando - #32.
I'm not surprised as with the large tourist economy that exists here, there's a lot of all-you-can-eat restaurants in addition to fast food. Between my home and the gym (6 miles down one main road) there are at least 6 fast food restaurants and another 4 chain restaurants. Sad. Report
Out of curiosity, I google mapped my city, centered it on my home and did a search for McDonald's.


Eight within a 5 mile radius. I had no idea. Truly an eye-opener. Report
Houston, TX...#9. I actually live in the Clear Lake area. I remember watching Jay Leno once when he said that Clear Lake has the highest percentage of restaurants per person, and it certainly seems true! Report
One of the things I love about NYC is how easy it is to walk everywhere. We're still a B- on that list and we have a lot of fast food places, but it would be much, much worse if we were as car-dependent as the rest of the US. Report
I live in a very small rural town with an area of less than 3 square miles. We have a McDonalds, a Sonic, a KFC, a Dominos, and a Pizza Hut. This does not include the many locally owned restaurants and grocery (and gas station) delis that do a strong carry-out business. Of course, even though the town has a population of less than 4000 and a small area, it serves a much broader rural area between cities (that have similar offerings).
The temptation opportunities to not prepare one's own food are everywhere. Somehow we've been brainwashed that the time to drive and sit in a drive-thru is less effort than grilling some chicken and veggies. Report
While my city is not on the list, Nashville is #57 and we are very close. My husband and I always joke that the only things to do here are shop and eat. We have so many shopping centers and stores, and anytime a new building is going up, we automatically know it is yet another restaurant.
The gyms here are a sad few, and we have only one park that it conducive to running/walking trails. Report
In my city (#6 on the list), I can remember when seeing an overweight person caught your attention. Now it is the norm, and as I have begun to notice this, it is becoming more unusual to see people of a healthy weight. Report
I live out in the boonies. 25 miles from the nearest town. The small town that I live has 3-4 restaurants (not fast food) & one fast food restaurant called: Taco on The Run. My husband & I believe in eating @ home, where we can eat for less. We do not use coupons, as I believe they often promote foods with perservatives in it. My husband is so frugal, that I let him do the grocery shopping.

I do not live in Texas, I live in Arizona (about 75, or 80 miles from Tucson) & yes: I too desire to be healthy & loose the excess baggage (pounds). Report
I live about 75 miles from Sacramento and they rate a C and rank 50, San Francisco on the other hand rate an A+ and rank 100. Must be good Northern California living. Report
Not only was my city not on the list, my entire state was not on the list. My city has the folllowing:

McDonalds -3
Burger King -1
Jack In The Box -1
Arby's -1
KFC - 1
A & W - !

That's it. Surprised. No, how can you be surprised with a website full of people that are obese and a small town like mine with people who can drive from one side to the other in 10 minutes, not understand how you can get by without a car!!! Report
I live in Seattle, which received an "A" grade. I never counted the fast food restaurants around here, but I do know you can't throw a rock in any direction without hitting a Starbucks! Report
Suprisingly, Cleveland is only 77 on the list! I'm surprised it's not higher. I travel fairly often overseas for work, and every time I get back, I am absolutely amazed at how big people are in the States and how bad we eat compared to Europe where they have much less processed food.. And you're right, we do hardly any walking or biking like our overseas friends do. Report
Canada is guilty of the same thing. At least four fast-foods and donut shops on every busy corner. Report
What's odd is that Dallas and Forth Worth are so close together, yet so far apart on their rank. What is Fort Worth doing better than Dallas? Maybe some tips can be offered to neighboring cities where this is the case. I live around thhe Houston area and I see that it ranks #9. We have co-workers from Delaware come down here to visit semi-often and they are fit and healthy and surprised by how unhealthy Houston is. They make remarks about how they actually saw one sidewalk somewhere. We have virtually zero, except for that one. It's ridiculous. Houston needs a health overhaul. Maybe Austin (#97/100, A) can give lessons, they've already set a good example. Report
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