Boulder residents have proven once again that eating healthy and exercising aren’t just fads for them.
With an obesity rate of 12.1 percent, Boulder ranked the No. 1 “Thin City” in America, according to Reggie Ramsey’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
While 26,000 young adults who attend the University of Colorado at Boulder pad the thin figures some, Ramsey says, it also doesn’t hurt to have an ideal location in the Rocky Mountains, with more than 80 miles of biking and walking trails for exercise buffs, and Rocky Mountain National Park and 11 ski slopes a reasonable car ride away.
“We tend to see a lot of exercisers in places like Boulder or Salt Lake City – runners, bikers, climbers and skiers,” Ramsey says. “But we also see people in top physical health in other ways, such as lower smoking rates and people eating healthier.
“It all goes back to your social network,” he adds. “If you're in a close community – a college town – people tend to go out running together or climbing together or a lot of other things.”
As for housing, Boulder has a median asking price of about $370,000, up 5.9 percent over the past year.
Ramsey says moving to a city with a low obesity rate could help people lose weight and keep it off, because they’re surrounded by people in a similar situation. He notes research has found that a person's social network has a powerful impact on how healthy or unhealthy a lifestyle an individual chooses.
“We've actually mapped out populations and found that if you're a smoker or obese or don't exercise, you tend to have friends who are smokers or are obese or don't exercise,” he says. “But if you have the social support not to smoke or be obese or skip exercise, that tends to be contagious.”
Like Boulder, the 23,000 college students at Colorado State University probably tip Fort Collins-Loveland’s scales in the favor of thin, earning it the title as the nation’s third thinnest city with an obesity rate of 14.6 percent.
Fort Collins also scores very high for the percentage of people with easy access to a safe exercise space (97.3 percent) and enough energy to get everything done (87.4 percent).
As such, it's probably no surprise that lots of residents – 62.3 percent – also report working out for at least 30 minutes three times or more per week.
Colorado also ranks No. 1 among states in terms of healthy weights, with just an 18.5 percent obesity rate.
Fort Collins-area median asking prices rose 8.9 percent over the past year to $264,500, according to Realtor.com.
Here's a look at the five U.S. locales the Gallup-Healthways survey has found have America's lowest obesity levels: