The 8 Most Artery-Clogging Cities in America

Is your hometown putting you at risk for heart disease?
Is your hometown putting you at risk for heart disease?

These urban centers have the highest rates of heart disease and obesity in the country, perhaps because they seem to promote sedentary lifestyles and diets heavy on fast food but light on fresh produce. We sorted through the latest statistical research from the CDC on obesity and heart disease rates to come up with this list of eight metropolitan areas with a population of over 200,000 that are most likely to clog your arteries. And because studies show that unhealthy habits are contagious, anybody moving to or spending time in these places should be extra careful to take care of their tickers.

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1. Detroit, MI
Detroit residents report more heart disease diagnoses than any other big city in the nation, according to CDC data, and 33% of them are obese. One thing the city's hearts do have in their favor: A vibrant urban agriculture movement is transforming empty lots into veggie-filled community gardens, increasing access to fresh produce in neighborhoods where it was previously scarce.

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2. Fort Wayne, IN Although people in this midsize city in northeast Indiana clearly need to take better care of their cardiovascular health (rates of obesity and heart disease are both sky-high) Fort Wayne has at least one thing going for it, health-wise: According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tracks various health markers across the country, Fort Wayne is a happy city. On a scale of "city optimism" it comes in six points above the national average.

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3. Lubbock, TX
Although it's not a big city compared to other Texas urban centers, 32% of Lubbock residents are obese, in no small part due to the preponderance of artery-clogging steakhouses and barbecue joints.

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4. New Orleans, LA
With all those deep fried delicacies and the city's general celebration of self-indulgence (it's the home of the drive-through daiquiri, after all) it's not hard to imagine why New Orleans denizens are more likely to be obese than those of many other cities. But those looking to shed the extra pounds have an abundance of scenic space in which to exercise: A whopping 25% of the city is parkland, one of the highest percentages of any city in the US.

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5. Dallas, TX
According to Sandelman and Associates, a restaurant industry consultancy, Dallas residents consume fast food an average of 20.7 times per month (the national average is 17), no doubt one reason for their high rates of heart disease and obesity. Another contributing factor: Despite its big city status, only 7% of Dallas residents' trips are taken by foot or bike, according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

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6. Baton Rouge, LA
Although the Creole and Cajun cuisines Baton Rouge is known for contain lots of vegetables and heart-healthy spices, they often include lots of fat, probably one reason the residents' arteries are in danger. Plus, in Gallup polling less than half of Baton Rouge residents report exercising frequently.

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7. Tulsa, OK
One thing that probably contributes to Tulsans' high risk of heart disease is the city's low "walkability." According to Walk Score, an organization which promotes pedestrian-friendly communities, only 6% of Tulsa residents live in a neighborhood with a walk score of 70 or above (100 being best) and 57% live in entirely car-dependent locales.

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8. Louisville, KY
Louisville contains more McDonald's outposts per capita (39) than any city in the country, according to a Daily Beast/Newsweek report, plus 20 Arby's, 17 Dairy Queens and 19 Papa John's-one reason its residents disproportionately suffer from heart disease. Aside from laying off the fast food, Louisville locals can improve their heart health by taking up cycling. The city is building a 100-mile bike and pedestrian path called the Louisville Loop, leading Bicycling magazine to place the city among the top 25 most bike-friendly in the nation.

Share: Do you think your city promotes health or heart disease?

--By Celeste Perron, Prevention

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