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October 30, 2007

Richard Florida

Couch Potato Index

« CEOs for Cities Weighs In | Main | Class Politics »

Forbes magazine released its list of America's most sedentary cities earlier this week (h/t: Dean Alexander).  The ranking is based on:

data on body mass index (BMI), physical inactivity and TV watching habits for the country's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas. For information on BMI and physical inactivity, we turned to 2006 data from the Centers for Disease Control and its comprehensive Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which surveys metropolitan areas annually on a range of health issues. For BMI, we added the percentage of obese or overweight people and ranked cities based on the combined number. When measuring frequency of exercise we looked at the survey's sole indicator: the percentage of people who had not engaged in any physical activity in the past 30 days. To determine TV watching habits, we used Nielsen data on the average number of hours of TV watched per week by metropolitan area.  After establishing where cities ranked in each category -- 1 for the heaviest city and 43 for the lightest, for example -- we then added the three for a final score. Memphis earned the lowest score with 10, and San Francisco claimed last place with 123. Some metropolitan areas, like Sacramento, Calif., or Columbus, Ohio, could not be included due to insufficient data from either the CDC or Nielsen. In total, we ranked 43 cities out of the original 50.

Not sure I completely buy it, but the story is here. Still, I'd be curious to see what other regional factors correlate with this couch potato index.


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Michael Wells

Be interesting to see the whole list, the online story only lists the 20 heaviest.

Here's a theory: Along with TV, add air conditioning. Millions of people who don't like heat are moving to hot places and staying indoors all summer, probably snacking and watching TV or wandering indoor malls. For regional factors, most of the heaviest cities are either in the southern part of the country or have high humidity in summer.

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