Men in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties are less physically active than they were 10 years ago, and more of them are becoming obese.

But data published last week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows they are also living longer than ever before.

The same report also shows that women in the tri-county area are getting more exercise than they used to, but are still gaining weight. Female life expectancy in these counties is also up.

The report featured county-level data from across the nation, highlighting the fact that men and women in the Lowcountry and South Carolina weigh more and will lead shorter lives than the national average, especially residents in poorer, rural counties.

“People are making poor lifestyle choices such as excessive TV viewing and low levels of physical activity, but improvements in medical science allow them to live longer, but not necessarily better,” said Edward Archer, a researcher at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. “Their quality of life and health are poor, but science is able to keep them alive.”

Beaufort County residents are the healthiest in the state based on the metrics in the report. Men and women there had the highest levels of physical activity, the longest life expectancies and the lowest levels of obesity, a medical term applied to men and women whose body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.

BMI is a function of height and weight and can be easily calculated using a tool on the National Institutes of Health website.

Residents in rural counties fared the worst.

Women in Allendale County have the sixth-highest level of obesity in the nation at 58 percent. Men in Marion and Lee counties have the shortest life expectancies in the state. On average, men there do not live past their 68th birthday, eight fewer years than the national average.

The Post and Courier’s multi-part series “Forgotten South Carolina” investigated the disparities between 26 rural counties and the rest of the state.

The institute based its report on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Both are administered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The full report is online,

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.