America's 20 Most Gluttonous Cities

A look at the most excessive food cities in the nation

America's 20 Most Gluttonous Cities
Wikimedia Commons/Dominican

What does it take to be one of the most gluttonous cities in the nation? While obesity rates come into play, being gluttonous is not just about being overweight. Furthermore, gluttony is about the quantity of food available to a certain population, and the kind of food available to them. When you're looking for cities that take food consumption to the next level, you're talking about ones that have high concentrations of fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, and full-service restaurants per capita — cities that have a McDonald's next to a 7-Eleven next to a discount supermarket housing a Dunkin' Donuts Express, all on one block. 

Click here for the America's Most Gluttonous Cities Slideshow

OK, that may be an exaggeration, but these were some of the factors that went into determining America's 20 most gluttonous cities. Ranking them involved considering the most recent reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Census Department, and the Center for Disease Control on the number of grocery stores and supermarkets per capita, the number of fast-food establishments, the number of full-service restaurants, and rates of obesity. In order to arrive at the top 20 cities, this data was then weighed against similar research compiled by private research firms such as Pinpoint Demographics

In order to paint a more accurate picture of which cities in the nation are the most gluttonous, the scope of each city was measured by its Census-designated metropolitan area. The top 20 cities are ranked according to how often the greater area appeared in the four categories (grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, and obesity rates). The statistics on each slide reflect that of the city proper.

Interestingly, surprisingly few cities in the South and Midwest (which are the regions where higher obesity rates are overwhelmingly prevalent) made the final list. While cities like Birmingham, Ala., and Macon, Ga., have extremely high levels of obesity, their statistics in the other categories were not significant enough to make the top 20. It should be noted that the cities in these regions that did make the list tend to have some of the highest scores, such as Houston, which has nearly double the number of grocery stores as Philadelphia and a 10 percent-higher obesity rate than San Francisco. 

Speaking of California, the state that's known for touting a health-conscious approach to food actually has the most cities on the list. In fact, Los Angeles has nearly twice as many fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, and grocery stores as Chicago (though the deep-dish pizza capital has a significantly higher obesity rate.) And Miami, the nation's quintessential beach body destination, has more than twice the number of fast-food restaurants as Columbus, Ohio

Ultimately, it turns out that America's largest cities are its most gluttonous (all of the ones on the list have a population greater than 100,000), but you may be surprised by places that didn't rank. You won't find Atlanta, Denver, or Boston, for instance. Cities are featured in ascending order. Find out where yours ranked by viewing the slideshow.



For our list, we compared the most recent data regarding the number of grocery stores per capita according to the U.S. Census Department and the per capita number of fast-food and full-service restaurants according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with adult obesity rates compiled by the Center for Disease Control. Each city was given points according to their ranking on the list; the cities that ranked the highest overall for their number of food outlets and obesity rates made the final list of cities that consume the most.

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Weird, "Los Angeles has nearly twice as many fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, and grocery stores as Chicago (though the deep-dish pizza capital has a significantly higher obesity rate.)"
It's almost as if Los Angeles has three times as many people as Chicago, so the greater density of fast food restaurants per person in Chicago might lead to a higher obesity rate. Oh wait, it is like that. It's exactly like that. This article was written by one of those people who thought they'd never use math, so stopped at pre-algebra.


Why on earth would how many grocery stores be a considering factor? Aren't grocery stores where you go to buy milk, cheese, poultry, produce and other HEALTHY foods to cook for your family? Good grief! I agree with everyone else: this story is TOTALLY off base and unworthy of being a being Top News.


This was so unbelievably terrible. The city with the highest population in the entire country, and hundreds of thousands of tourists every day has more food than anywhere else? My god, it's almost logical!
Maybe do another one with per capita grocery stores and restaurants, maybe then this would carry some validity.


This is a ridiculous study and it is obsurd that it is being listed as a top story. Gluttonous means overindulging and over-consuming. To make the assumption that there is a direct corollary between number of resturants and grocery stores and gluttony is flawed. As mentioned in the article the areas of the country with the highest rates of obesty did not rate high for her standards for gluttonoy. Wouldn't that lead a real researcher to question her study? So she has labeled the cities where you can find the most diversity of all kinds of smaller food stores and resturants, for all different types of food and preferences as gluttonous above areas/cities with people who obviously have gluttonous behaviors leading to obesity but have fewer stores and resturants to choose from. Maybe her conclusion based on obesity rates should have examined if MORE choices for shopping and eating lead to healthier choices!


Looking at only the pictures of the top ten, the text underneath explaining why seemed surprised by the results of their own study, which to me makes me question the criteria they used to rate the cities.


Obesity isn't about people loving food, but not having the opportunity to eat healthy and in a planned way. It's linked to poverty. Why make a list denigrating 20 cities who all have their fare share of poverty. And, why are grocery stores a bad thing? Is it better to buy food at Costco than at the local grocery or produce market? I know lots of people would rather have a stand of fresh meat and produce than McDonald's on every corner.

I suggest you make a list of 20 Cities that "deserve better food options" than insults and faux research.


How does this relate to the most prosperous cities? We are all about food and it's a huge industry. Restaurants were always one of the ways poor immigrants could make their hard work pay off in this country and formed (And continues to form) the foundation for wealth and the basis for the American Dream-which by the way is really about self determination. And right now it's keeping our economy going. America has been attacked where we live, and it’s affected how we work, dealt blows to our essential freedoms, our free enterprise and distribution systems, and how we handle health care. We've been weakened on every level. Now this! The last bastion!

Americans are a nation of workers. We were never given anything on a silver platter. We've had to work hard to create the abundance that other countries envy. We work for ourselves not the state or some ruler or a dictator or a society of fellow workers whose value systems are established by the state. The ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor is one of our basic rights. If we're obese so what? There are worse things. And some obese people I know are the smartest. If we don't live as long what is it to you?

So we're fat. We should feel guilty, cringe, get depressed, feel like we're not worthy of being treated with dignity, and let foreigners take advantage of our diminishing self esteem while we head to the docs for antidepressants, buy lots of diet products, cry and resort to extreme measures when we can't manage to transform ourselves into the requisite eye candy, allow people to belittle and humiliate us and die young, anyway because of all the stress this is causing.

Frankly, I don't think anybody really cares how healthy Joe and Susan Schmoe are, how they look or how long they live. Some of this is about superficiality and the popularization of a new level of SANCTIONED prejudice that appeals to bigots whose other forms of bigotry have taken on a social stigma. But jealousy on the part of other countries, most of whom never liked us in the first place-and money, of course-are the root of it. I won't go into any kind of conspiracy theory stuff, but thinking people have to be able to see that this isn’t just about fat people. It’s the next step in American Exploitation 101.

Of course there’s all the brouhaha over how fat people are causing health care costs to rise. (But so are old people!) And we’re nervous because of the new Health Care Bill. Socialized medicine? We can't even support socialized retirement! Especially now that we've allowed ourselves to be exploited by foreign entities whose only goal has always been to weaken us-or maybe they have control issues, too. (Could it be their goal to come in and rescue us from ourselves when we can no longer take care of our own? But-oops-that would be indulging in Conspiracy Theory, and I promised not to do that!) The reality is that health care in this country has always been an INDUSTRY, too! So if we're fat (Or old) and need more medical attention, we’re keeping the health care industry booming! (And think of all those jobs we’re helping sustain!)

Get over yourselves, people. Some of us are fat. We have a right to be fat if we so choose. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and bigotry is a far worse poison.


I agree 100%! For some reason, there are people in this country who think that another person being fat is their business, and they use the bad argument that it drives up health costs, but health care costs are determined by supply and demand just like everything else: food, gas, housing, education, etc.. And if a person wishes to be fat, so be it.


Have the writers of this story been to Indiana. I'm tellin ya. We've got some chunky monkies!


I'd have to argue with a survey that doesn't include New Orleans! The restaurants in NOLA rank right up there with those in New York and because food is such a part of the culture, would have to be considered gluttonous. The writer has obviously never been. Sadly.


1. The average grocery store in NYC is tiny compared to the average grocery store in other cities.

2. The obesity rate among different ethnic groups in NYC is huge.


This article lacks credibility and validity. It's based on unrelated criteria and no hard facts. Ms. Aronica should stick to her recipes and leave statistics to people who understand them.


The person who wrote this article must be horrible at math. Why is NYC on the list and not Boston? Probably because NYC is way more densely populated than Boston. In order to get a true list of "gluttonous" cities, the amount of people in the city, as well as how large the city itself is would need to be in the equation. This article is useless.

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