Published: June 1, 2010 By

bolder boulder

Runners line up at the start of the Bolder Boulder, an annual Memorial Day 10k that celebrated its 32nd year in May.

A couple of years ago a Forbes magazine survey concluded that Boulder was the smartest city in the country. Now comes word from the Gallup Poll that Boulder is the second thinnest.

Forbes found that the Boulder metropolitan area, aka Boulder County, had the highest proportion of college graduates — 53 percent — of any metropolitan area in the U.S.

The Gallup organization surveyed 187 metropolitan areas and found Boulder had the second lowest proportion of obese people in the country at 16.6 percent. First place went to neighboring Fort Collins/Loveland, aka Larimer County, at 16 percent. Montgomery, Ala., and Stockton, Calif., tied for last at 34.6 percent. By way of comparison, the national obesity rate is 26.5 percent.

How does Gallup figure who’s lean and hungry and who’s fat and sassy? It asked people how much they weighed and how tall they were, which allows you to calculate a person’s Body Mass Index by dividing your weight by the square of your height. Normal is 18.5 to 24.9. Anything over 30 is obese.

So how did Boulder get so svelte?

Item: In America, rich folks tend to be thinner than poor folks, and surveys regularly find Boulder County’s median family income is around a third higher than the national average. That means you can afford to dine on, say, organic, fat-free, hummingbird tongues and other delicacies whose calorie count vary inversely to the price.

Item: Younger tends to be thinner than older, and with 30,000 CU students and a disproportionate number of 20-somethings in residence there’s proportionately less middle-age spread in Boulder County.

Item: Boulder eats its veggies and works out. It turns out Gallup tracks the proportion of people who eat fruits and vegetables “frequently” and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day three times a week or more.

Gallup found that 61.2 percent of Boulderites eat their veggies often, a bit above the national average of 56.8 percent. And 61.2 percent also exercise frequently, well above the national average of 49.9 percent.

Boulder gets stellar marks on all sorts of well-being metrics — so stellar that it finished No. 1 on Gallup’s Well-Being Composite Index, which averages the responses to questions about healthy behaviors, physical and emotional health, work environment, access to food, shelter, medical care, etc. Boulder got a 72.5 rating, the best among medium and small cities and higher than any city on the large cities list to boot.

And which community scored lowest? The lowest overall rating went to metro Fort Smith, Ark., with a 59.5 score.

Among large cities, (over 1 million population), Las Vegas finished last with a 63.5 rating.

Which just goes to show what happens in Boulder stays in Boulder.