The March 2012 issue of Men's Fitness includes the magazine's first "America's Fattest Cities" survey since 2009 , and yes ... Houston, we have a problem. (We hate that cliché, too, but Men's Fitness itself already claimed the stock "everything's bigger" joke.)
As Nate Millard's feature (which is not yet available online) began:
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...
...according to the (Center for Disease Control) 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.
Indeed, Houston had hovered around fifth or sixth between 2004 and 2009, after famously topping the magazine's list for three straight years from 2001 to 2003.
Millard suggests that long commutes, lack of mass transit (which requires more walking), and the weather are partially to blame for Houston's indolence. The story also claims that Houston has more fast food restaurants than any American city: 1,034.
But the Bayou City is not alone. El Paso came in at number seven (41.1 percent of its residents are overweight), and Dallas barely made it on the list at number 25 (but, it should be noted, it has the third most obese population in the country at 33.8 percent). Arlington came in at number fifteen, topping Dallas with the second-most obese population in the country at 35.3 percent.
The magazine also did a list of the "25 Fittest Cities." San Antonio snuck onto that one at number 25, but it also won the category of "Heaviest Drinkers" in the "fattest" feature—roughly eight percent of the city's population have at least two drinks per day. Austin also made the fittest list at number twelve. The magazine reported that 31 percent of Austinites "are cardio fanatics."
The surveys are derived from three indexes (Healthy Habits, Bad Habits and Healthy Cities) that draw on a variety of sources, including CDC data, information from health clubs and sporting goods manufacturers, air quality, and commute times.
A similar package from Men's Health this past November, "America's Fattest (and Leanest) Cities," had five Texas locales in the top ten, but a very different pecking order: Corpus Christ was number one, followed by El Paso (number three), Dallas (number four), San Antonio (number seven), and Houston (number nine).
Houston also fared better than Dallas (and Lubbock) when Prevention magazine weighed in with the "8 Most Artery-Clogging Cities in America."