Skip to Content

Cities with the highest rates of obesity

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

Cities with the highest rates of obesity

Skyline of downtown Akron, Ohio at dusk.

The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity in adults in the developed world, according to the Global Obesity Observatory. Still, obesity rates worldwide have increased over the past several decades, with the World Health Organization reporting most people live in countries where starvation and malnutrition kill fewer people than obesity.

A common, though decreasingly used, measure of obesity is body mass index. This calculation uses a person’s height and weight to roughly indicate whether a person might be underweight, overweight, or at a generally healthy weight.

Stacker examined data from the CDC’s annual PLACES report, released in July 2023, to see which cities had the highest share of obese adults. Cities with at least 10,000 residents are ranked by the share of respondents with a body mass index greater than or equal to 30, calculated from self-reported weight and height. In the event of a tie, the overall population was used.

It’s vital to note that the BMI metric is so broad that many health experts discourage using BMI to indicate overall health. In June 2023, the American Medical Association announced a new policy that clarifies how BMI should be used after an AMA Council on Science and Public Health report highlighted BMI’s limitations and historical issues. Solely using BMI to diagnose obesity and assess one’s health doesn’t consider variants like age, sex, gender, race, and ethnicity, with the AMA recommending clinicians use BMI alongside other measures. 

Weight is not necessarily a health issue on its own; problems arise when excess fat or weight, and the nutritional imbalances related to it, bring about diseases that can become chronic and even fatal. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that overweight and obese people are at higher risk of developing “heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual medical cost of treating obesity in the U.S. was nearly $173 billion in 2019. Not only can obese adults be burdened by medical bills, but they also may miss work more often due to health problems.

The connection between obesity, income, and educational level is considered “complex” by the CDC, as other variables, such as gender, race, and ethnicity, play a role in the statistics. However, the CDC reports overall, those with college degrees had lower obesity prevalence than people with less education.

Among U.S. states, obesity rates and poverty indexes also appear to be related. Most cities with high obesity rates rank low in average income and educational attainment—particularly those in lower-income areas of the South and Midwest.

Dave Einsel // Getty Images

#50. San Benito, Texas

A driver makes their way through high winds and rain July 23, 2008 in San Benito, Texas

– Total population: 24,250
– Share of adults with obesity: 47%

Sabrina Janelle Gordon // Shutterstock

#49. Coffeyville, Kansas

The townscape of Coffeyville with a grain elevator and a power plant.

– Total population: 10,297
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.1%

Sabrina Janelle Gordon // Shutterstock

#48. Minden, Louisiana

A view of buildings in Minden, Louisiana.

– Total population: 13,084
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.1%

Wendy van Overstreet // Shutterstock

#47. Marietta, Ohio

Street view of downtown Marietta with cars parked at curb.

– Total population: 14,085
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.1%

Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#46. Portsmouth, Virginia

Front of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum in Portsmouth, Virginia.

– Total population: 95,535
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.1%

Roberto Galan // Shutterstock

#45. Raymondville, Texas

The Willacy County Courthouse and War Memorial.

– Total population: 11,284
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.2%

Jarred Armfield // Shutterstock

#44. Bastrop, Louisiana

Bussey Brake Reservoir in Bastrop, Louisiana.

– Total population: 11,365
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.3%

Jahi Chikwendiu // The Washington Post via Getty Images

#43. Bogalusa, Louisiana

A road in Bogalusa, Louisiana with gas stations surrounding it.

– Total population: 12,232
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.3%

James Kirkikis // Shutterstock

#42. Selma, Alabama

View of downtown business district of Selma, Alabama.

– Total population: 20,756
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.3%

Bravo Charlie Productions // Shutterstock

#41. Lima, Ohio

Train tracks and road in Lima, Ohio.

– Total population: 38,777
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.4%


#40. Donna, Texas

Palm trees during bright sunset at Donna Victoria Palms PV Resort in Donna, Texas.

– Total population: 15,798
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.6%

Beeline Aerial // Shutterstock

#39. Dayton, Ohio

The Mad and Great Miami Rivers in Dayton, Ohio.

– Total population: 141,542
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.6%

BullpenAl // Shutterstock

#38. Hamilton, Ohio

A view of the lake and a boathouse at a park in Hamilton County Ohio

– Total population: 62,371
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.7%

CEW // Shutterstock

#37. Zanesville, Ohio

Y shaped bridge in Zanesville, Ohio with the town and grain elevators in the background.

– Total population: 25,488
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.8%

Eleonore SENS / AFP via Getty Images

#36. Warren, Ohio

The city of Warren, Ohio on October 17, 2019.

– Total population: 41,592
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.8%

Henryk Sadura // Shutterstock

#35. Canton, Ohio

View of owntown of Canton, Ohio.

– Total population: 73,557
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.8%

The American Explorer // Shutterstock

#34. Ironton, Ohio

The Ironton-Russell Bridge crosses the Ohio River between Ironton, Ohio and Russell, Kentucky.

– Total population: 11,129
– Share of adults with obesity: 47.9%

Roberto Galan // Shutterstock

#33. Hope, Arkansas

The Hempstead County Courthouse in Hope, Arkansas.

– Total population: 10,122
– Share of adults with obesity: 48%


#32. La Homa, Texas

Texas state flag waving against a clear blue sky.

– Total population: 11,909
– Share of adults with obesity: 48%

DANIEL SLIM/AFP // Getty Images

#31. Jennings, Missouri

Aerial view shows the Gateway Arch near the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. Jennings is in St. Louis County.

– Total population: 14,710
– Share of adults with obesity: 48%

Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge // Getty Images

#30. Atmore, Alabama

A wheat field in Atmore.

– Total population: 10,194
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.1%

Isabella Pino/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group // Getty Images

#29. Fairfield, Alabama

Aerial view of Birmingham, Alabama. Fairfield is a part of the Birmingham metro.

– Total population: 11,117
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.1%

redtbird02 // Shutterstock

#28. Ashtabula, Ohio

Historic Ashtabula Harbor lift bridge raised on a sunny Summer Day.

– Total population: 19,124
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.1%

Mikhalis Makarov // Shutterstock

#27. East Cleveland, Ohio

The Flats, east bank of Cleveland.

– Total population: 17,843
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.2%

jmanaugh3 // Shutterstock

#26. Greenwood, Mississippi

A plaque next to a bridge in Greenwood, Mississippi.

– Total population: 15,205
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.3%

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#25. Muskegon, Michigan

Aerial view of Muskegon in Michigan.

– Total population: 38,406
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.4%

Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire // Getty Images

#24. McComb, Mississippi

Mississippi state flag flies against a soft, pink and blue overcast sky.

– Total population: 12,786
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.5%

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#23. Akron, Ohio

Akron, Ohio, USA downtown city skyline in the daytime..

– Total population: 199,138
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.5%

Ralf Broskvar // Shutterstock

#22. Marion, Ohio

Kings Mill Covered Bridge over the Olentangy River in Marion, Ohio.

– Total population: 36,837
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.6%

Kilmer Media // Shutterstock

#21. Middletown, Ohio

The old downtown section of Middletown, Ohio.

– Total population: 48,694
– Share of adults with obesity: 48.6%

Christian Hinkle // Shutterstock

#20. York, Pennsylvania

Downtown York, Pennsylvania off Beaver street in the Historic District.

– Total population: 43,718
– Share of adults with obesity: 49%

The American Explorer // Shutterstock

#19. East Liverpool, Ohio

A sunset view of the Newell Toll Bridge.

– Total population: 11,300
– Share of adults with obesity: 49.3%


#18. Trotwood, Ohio

Ohio flag flying against blue sky with fluffy clouds.

– Total population: 24,431
– Share of adults with obesity: 49.6%

BD Images // Shutterstock

#17. Highland Park, Michigan

The Highland Park Ford Plant.

– Total population: 11,776
– Share of adults with obesity: 49.7%

Nina Alizada // Shutterstock

#16. Forrest City, Arkansas

Flower painted pedestrian crossing in Forrest City.

– Total population: 15,382
– Share of adults with obesity: 49.7%

Kenneth Keifer // Shutterstock

#15. East Chicago, Indiana

Setting sun back lights a lighthouse shining.

– Total population: 29,698
– Share of adults with obesity: 49.7%

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#14. Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown, Ohio, USA downtown skyline at twilight.

– Total population: 66,982
– Share of adults with obesity: 49.7%

Hawkeye Dronography // Shutterstock

#13. Portsmouth, Ohio

Ohio River & Portsmouth Ohio Bridge.

– Total population: 20,226
– Share of adults with obesity: 50.3%

Bennekom // Shutterstock

#12. Clarksdale, Mississippi

Downtown street in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

– Total population: 17,962
– Share of adults with obesity: 50.5%

Cavan-Images // Shutterstock

#11. Prichard, Alabama

The cochrane bridge.

– Total population: 22,664
– Share of adults with obesity: 50.6%

Nina Alizada // Shutterstock

#10. Indianola, Mississippi

B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi.

– Total population: 10,683
– Share of adults with obesity: 50.9%

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#9. Saginaw, Michigan

Aerial View of Saginaw, Michigan during Summer.

– Total population: 51,497
– Share of adults with obesity: 51.1%

Suzanne Tucker // Shutterstock

#8. Benton Harbor, Michigan

Main Street in dowtonw Benton Harbor.

– Total population: 10,168
– Share of adults with obesity: 51.6%

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#7. Flint, Michigan

Aerial View of Downtown Flint, Michigan in Summer.

– Total population: 102,434
– Share of adults with obesity: 51.7%

Kit Leong // Shutterstock

#6. Cahokia, Illinois

Sunny view of the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society.

– Total population: 15,243
– Share of adults with obesity: 51.9%

Chad Robertson Media // Shutterstock

#5. Yazoo City, Mississippi

Yazoo City Corp limit sign.

– Total population: 11,403
– Share of adults with obesity: 52.1%

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#4. Gary, Indiana

Aerial View of Downtown Gary, Indiana and its Steel Mill.

– Total population: 80,294
– Share of adults with obesity: 52.3%

Xinhua/Joel Lerner // Getty Images

#3. Beecher, Michigan

Fall foliage at Lobdell Lake in Genesee County, the same county where Beecher is located.

– Total population: 10,232
– Share of adults with obesity: 53.8%


#2. Muskegon Heights, Michigan

The bright red Muskegon Pier Lighthouse.

– Total population: 10,857
– Share of adults with obesity: 55.5%

Wspin // Shutterstock

#1. East St. Louis, Illinois

An empty Casio Queen parking lot in East St. Louis.

– Total population: 27,005
– Share of adults with obesity: 57.9%

Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

Article Topic Follows: Health

Jump to comments ↓



KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content