MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A Gallup study has Myrtle Beach reaching the top of a list it does not want to be on. The city and outlying areas are listed as the sixth fattest metropolitan area in the nation.
"We're encountering more and more cases of obesity in children," said Dr. Dennis Rhoades of Doctor's Care. "They have more hypertension, they have more diabetes."
The study does not paint a pretty picture of the Grand Strand area. According to the study, just over 33 percent of the area's population is considered obese and 40 percent of the population has high blood pressure.
Dr. Rhoades says contributing factors like diet, exercise, and even the layout of the city itself plays some role. A side-by-side comparison of Myrtle Beach to the nation's leanest city, Boulder, Colorado, shows two distinct differences.
Both cities are similar in square miles, but the city of Boulder has 61 public parks to Myrtle Beach's 9, allowing people to get out more, and be more active.
"The most accessible spot here is the Market Common," said jogger Joanne Rice. "Everything else, I've got to drive to."
Another surprising number is the percentage of people in the area with at least a bachelor's degree. In Myrtle Beach, it's less than 25%, but in Boulder, it's almost 66%. Dr. Rhoades says this number, surprisingly, plays a big role in obesity.
"Folks that have a higher level of education tend to read more," he said. "They're generally more interested in their health as a rule."
Dr. Rhoades says you do not have to be a college graduate to lose weight, but doing your research and making educated decisions on your lifestyle could make all the difference.
"The simplest changes matter," he said.