Just As I Thought

Arlington is on the fat map

My hometown, Arlington, Virginia, made it’s way for the first time on to the Men’s Fitnessfattest city” list at number EIGHT! This is, frankly, astonishing. As I look around me, I see far fewer fat people than I see at work in suburban Maryland. There are about 15 neighbors here who I see nearly everyday, and of those, only two could possibly be considered overweight. I think there are plenty of problems with the survey, not the least of which is that Arlington is not a city — it’s a county. Were it counted as such, perhaps it would be pretty far down the list of counties.
This makes very little sense to me. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Washington suburb with a higher concentration of gym-going, on-the-go, jogging, working-out young adults than Arlington. How in the world did they name Arlington fatter than such places as Cleveland (9), Memphis (20), New York (21) or El Paso (24)? I’ve been to El Paso. I have relatives in El Paso. And Arlington is no El Paso when it comes to overweight people.
How did they come up with this statistic?

To determine the top 25 fattest cities, the magazine looked at the 50 largest cities in 14 categories, such as air quality, climate, commute time, total number of fast-food and pizza restaurants, and number of health clubs and sporting goods stores.

The mere presence of fast food, long commutes, and few sporting goods stores hardly makes people fat. Because Arlington is the smallest urban county in the country, there’s not a high number of any stores. Did it occur to the writers of this list that the folks in Arlington mostly work in other jurisdictions, and go to the gym there? For instance: there are two gyms close by my house. One is a county rec center, the other is actually located in Fairfax county about 1 mile away, so it wouldn’t be counted in this survey.
This list has absolutely NO bearing on reality. At all.

Disclaimer: I typed this on a laptop while sitting on my living room couch, watching “Fawlty Towers” on TiVo, munching on Tostito’s Torilla Chips, in my house in Arlington, Virginia on a 60° day when I should be outside doing something healthful.


  • um, I’m not sure, but I think they are referring to Arlington, TX, next to Dallas, where the Texas Rangers play.

    It makes a little more sense, since half the list of the fattest cities are in Texas.

    Nice blog, though. I’ll keep reading.

  • Ah, if only — but the article clearly states “Arlington, Virginia.”
    I wish they had included other counties in their rankings, when stacked up against neighboring counties like Fairfax and Prince George’s, I’m sure that Arlington’s ranking is at the bottom of the barrel.
    Basing a survey about the fattest people by looking at the concentration of fast food and lack of gyms is ridiculous. That’s like deciding that everyone in America is a rabdi right-winger because of the concentration of right-wing radio talk shows.
    Anyway, this survey is clearly designed to market fitness products, and any resemblance to actual scientific methodology is completely coincidental.

  • Turns out it /was/ supposed to be Arlington, Texas, after all. See article from the Northern Virginia Journal on the Arlington County web site: http://www.co.arlington.va.us/NewsDigest/Scripts/ViewDetail.asp?Index=1101

    The article also notes “In an ironic twist, Arlington was cited, not for its obesity, but for its health earlier this year when Sports Illustrated named it the best sports town in Virginia. Sun said Arlington was selected based on a number of criteria, including access to health and fitness facilities and the high rate of community participation in healthy activities.”

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