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Blame it on the –

July 13, 2009

Gravy. Biscuits. BBQ. Pecan Pies. Deep-fried everything.

3465-12x12 Slow Your Roll Tollbooth sign

One of our ads from 2008

Time.com recently published an article which caught my eye (and probably the eye of anyone else who came across it): “Why are Southerners So Fat?” Of course I noticed, since I am a Southerner myself.

It didn’t really call out Florida specifically. Rather, it discussed Mississippi and its title of “chubbiest state” because it has a 33% obesity rate for the 5th year in a row. It also mentioned Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia.

The article made some really interesting points that got me thinking. They quoted Jeff Levi, who explained that “When you’re poor, you tend to eat more calorie-dense foods because they’re cheaper than fruits and vegetables.” It does make a lot of sense when you think about it. However, even though processed and calorie-ridden foods seem the easiest and cheapest, you can still buy fresh produce cheap, especially when it is in season. There is also the option of frozen produce when fresh is either not available or too expensive.

I remember being a broke college student living off ramen noodles and rice. However, I did not know what I know now about fresh produce and buying in season, nor did I really know how to cook. Maybe that’s the next option – educating the lower income population.

It was also mentioned that poor neighborhoods also have fewer grocery stores, so then the shopping options fall to convenience type stores. That could explain a lot as well. Less options and no fresh produce being readily available leaves most lower income families with only a few options.

After the article addressed the lower income population, it brought up culture. As I was reading, I started to get offended as I saw where the article was going. They started to stereotype southerners as people who only eat “fried chicken (not to mention fried steak, fried onions, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles and fried corn bread. Even when their food isn’t fried, they like to smother it in gravy.” I thought that was a bit over exaggerated. Yes, then they admitted that even that was wrong. Culture does play a role in how we eat – or does it? I think it can go both ways.

Lack of physical activity was the final point in the article. People that live in the South do not get as much exercise as people living elsewhere. One reason is public transportation or the lack thereof. The South is not like the huge metropolitan cities that rely on buses and trains to commute, most of those people in the larger cities have to walk to the bus stop or train. In the South, you have a car and you drive it to where you want to go. Not to mention the heat. It gets hot in the South during the summer; factor in humidity and it is like walking into a sauna.

I thought this article was very well written and addressed some very valid points about Southerners and obesity. So what can be done to change it? That’s something that should be addressed. Personally I feel educating people about when fresh produce is in season and how to cook a little more healthy could work wonders.

What do you think? What are the biggest factors with obesity?

And if you think you eat badly, head over to This is why you’re fat.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    July 13, 2009 4:30 pm

    How is it when any of the network “News” agencies report on obesity, they always show sidewalks full of obese people’s midriffs with thier heads cropped off at the neck. Since we have so few sidewalks in the South, I have always assumed these to be large metropolitan cities of the North. Perhaps that was the week rural Southerners were allowed access to the Big Apple, thinking that it would be deep fried.

    From this article are we to expect Michigan’s residents’ mass to ballon as a result of the state’s 14% unemployment rate ? Real Estate agents in the North should be reaching critical mass by this time according to this theory. How are we to understand the existence of Chicago as the meat packing capital of the modern world and Milwaukee a beer, cheese and sausage mecca if it is a regional-social effect?

    The argument about public transportation doesn’t hold up, either. There are plenty of small towns with convenience stores in western and upstate New York, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc. where there is no more public transportation that in the South.

    In most instances, obesity, in my opinion, is an unintended consequence of taking the path of least resistance. Can’t resist the convenience of fast food, can’t resist super-sizing the value meal for $.39, can’t resist pre-packaged meals at the grocery store, and can’t resist the urge to sit in the air-conditioning on a warm summer day.

    I blame none other than myself for the shape I’m in, nor will I offer apologies. When I’m ready to change I’ll join the resistance!

    • July 13, 2009 4:54 pm

      I agree with your points. And I also agree with your solution, that it is watching more of what you eat and staying away from the fast food and pre-packaged meals. However, I believe for the lower income population, education might another huge factor in helping with obesity. As it pointed out, one of the main states was Mississippi – which I think is also one of the poorest states too. There in lies some of the problem. The lower income sometimes aren’t as educated, nor do they have the resources available that other people might.

      As for transportation, well it might play a role. For instance, having to walk to the bus or train stop each day might ensure a person gets a little more exercise than simply walking from your front door to your car. Then from your car to your building, which in most cases is right near your car…

      It’s a debate that could go on – ultimately those are all just factors, and you’re correct it does come down to the person. 🙂

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