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Reading Area Near Top Of List With Most Obese Populations

Ranks 5th On Gallup's List Of Most Obese Areas

The Reading area is once again finding itself near the top of a list it rather not be on.

According to the results of a Gallup / Healthways poll released in March, the Reading metropolitan area, which includes all of Berks County, is 5th on the list of most obese metropolitan areas in the United States.

The survey found that 33.8 percent of adults living in Berks County are obese.

"We definitely see a lot of patients that are obese," said Nicole Rhoads, a registered dietitian at St. Joseph Medical Center's Community Campus in downtown Reading.

The most common problem Rhoads said she notices with her patients is that they are skipping healthy foods while overloading on things like sweets.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan area, which includes Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry counties, ranked 7th on the list, with 33 percent of its population obese.

The least obese area of the country was found to be Boulder, Colorado, with 12.9 percent of its adult population obese.

Nationwide, 26.6 percent of American adults were obese in 2010, unchanged from 2009, but higher than 25.5 percent in 2008, according to the survey.

LINK:More Than 1 in 5 Adults Obese in U.S. Metro Areas

Gallup's survey also found that chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are significantly more prevalent in the 10 most obese metro areas than in the 10 that are the least obese.

High blood pressure, for instance, is 10 percentage points higher in the most obese metro areas than in the least obese ones, according to the survey, which also found that more adults also report having had a heart attack in the places where obesity is the highest.

"I've seen people lose a lot of weight just by cutting out soda in their diet," said Rhoads. "The little things like that can really go a long way."

Rhoads said adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is just one way to maintain a healthy weight.

Another way may not come as a surprise, but Gold's Gym general manager Adam Schmidt said getting at least a half-hour to 45 minutes of cardio exercise can do wonders.

"It's really important to set goals, have a plan, meet with a trainer," said Schmidt. "Then they can take you through everything and it's not just you by yourself."

Gallup tracks U.S. obesity levels as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, using Americans' self-reported height and weight to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. BMI scores of 30 or higher are considered obese.

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