According to a recent poll by Gallup, 26 percent of American adults are obese.* The obesity epidemic has been going on for decades, and today, health-care costs associated with obesity are estimated at $147 billion a year.
To be considered obese, a person has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. With the extra weight comes myriad health issues — obesity contributes to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
Recently, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranked the 10 most obese metropolitan areas in the U.S., offering perspective on the cities that are affected by the country’s obesity woes.
The health implications are apparent — of the metro areas with the highest obesity levels, 58 percent of their residents were more likely to report having had a heart attack over the course of their lifetimes, and 34 percent were more likely to report having high blood pressure. Combined, residents of these cities also pay an estimated $1 billion more in medical costs each year thanks to their high obesity rates.
In 2010, the government announced its goal to lower the prevalence of obesity to 15 percent. In 2011, only three out of the 190 areas surveyed in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index had an obesity rate below that level: Fort-Collins-Loveland, Colo.; Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.; and Boulder, Colo. Boulder ranked as the least obese city, with an obesity rate of 12.1 percent.
It’s not all bad news, however. According to the CDC, although there was a rise in obesity between 1983 and 2000, the rates actually have stabilized over the past 10 years.
"There has been no change in obesity prevalence in recent years," CDC scientist Heidi Blanck said. "However, over the last decade there has been a significant increase in obesity prevalence among men and boys, but not among women and girls overall."
The government is aiming to eventually reduce the rate of obesity. In 2010, the Childhood Obesity Task Force released 70 recommendations to prevent and control childhood obesity.
Click ahead to see the most obese metro areas in the U.S., and how much their citizens are paying in obesity-related health-care costs every year, according to the recent Gallup survey.
— Michelle Fox, CNBC
*A report by the CDC put this number at one-third of U.S. adults who suffered from obesity in 2009-2010.
** The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index results are based on telephone interviews throughout 2011, with a random sampling of 353,492 adults living in the U.S. Health-care costs were based on the National Institute of Health’s estimate of $1,429 per person, per year, in additional health-care costs for people considered obese, compared to those of non-obese individuals.
More From CNBC: