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Obesity costs Americans billions each year

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in America are obese. (Source: Tony Alter/WikiCommons) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in America are obese. (Source: Tony Alter/WikiCommons)

(RNN) - America's love affair with fatty foods and giant-sized portions is costing us more than our waistlines.

Obesity and related chronic health issues cost taxpayers billions of dollars a year, with nearly $2 billion spent in 2011 alone in the 10 metro areas with the highest obesity rates, according to research from Gallup.

The metropolitan area with the highest obesity rate is McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX. Nearly 40 percent of residents are deemed obese, costing an estimated $411 million a year.

Boulder, CO, took the title for the lowest obesity rate, with only 12 percent of residents suffering from the condition.

In all, Americans paid around $80 billion for additional health care costs related to obesity in 2011.

And all that extra weight isn't just hitting them in the pocketbook or in the store's dressing room.

The numbers show people in the most obese areas were 71 percent more likely to report that they suffered from diabetes than those in the least obese areas. Similar patterns were seen for reports of heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression and high cholesterol.

So where do the numbers show people need to shape up?

Texas is home to two of the 10 most obese metro areas: McAllen and Beaumont-Port Arthur. Other cities on the list include Binghamton, NY; Huntington, WV; Rockford, IL; Charleston, WV; Lakeland, FL; Topeka, KS; Kennewick, WA; and Reading, PA.

As for the least obese places?

Maybe it's the overabundance of outdoor activities, but Colorado laid claim to three of the 10 least obese metro areas: Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs.

Other fit metropolitan areas include Norwalk, CT; Barnstable Town, Ma; Santa Barbara, CA; Naples, FL; Trenton, NJ; Provo, UT; and San Francisco, CA. 

The rankings were based on self-reported height and weight numbers, which were used to calculate an individual's Body Mass Index (BMI) scores.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in America are obese, while 17 percent of people between ages 2 and 19 suffer from the condition.

"Eating should be pleasurable, but it is important to be aware of how much food we eat each day," said Marjorie Nola, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "A key step to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is putting less food on your plate."

The Academy suggests that Americans stay mindful of daily calorie needs, avoid oversized portions by using smaller plates, cook at home, watch for liquid calories in sodas and similar drinks and keep a food log to avoid obesity.

An active lifestyle is also key.

"Choose activities you enjoy like going for a walk with your family, joining a sports team, dancing or playing with your children," said Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy. "If you don't have a full 30 minutes, carve out 10 minutes three times a day. Every bit adds up and health benefits increase the more active you are."

March is National Nutrition Month.

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Most and least obese metro areas


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According to Gallup, the most and least obese metro areas were spread across the nation. The purple markers indicate areas with high obesity rates while the yellow markers are for areas with low obesity rates.
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