Does living in the Deep South make you fat?


My local newspaper carried a story this morning on the findings of a study performed by Mississippi State and Auburn Universities.

The bottom line is that “The South Does Not Make you Fat.”  Whew.  That’s a big relief.


So why are Mississippians among the most obese in the world? Thirty-two percent of residents of Mississippi are obese – nearly one in three.

That’s pretty dismal. The traditional Southern diet — high in fat and fried food — may be part of the answer, said Dr. William Dietz, who heads CDC’s nutrition, physical activity and obesity division.

fried-okra_afvx I quit frying two decades ago, but I still love a good potluck dinner where fried delicacies abound – usually served right from a KFC box.

And okra – the boiled version is slimy and disgusting, but fry it up, and I can eat my weight in it.  And fried green tomatoes – nothing can top them in my book.

The clincher, a researcher says is “Southerners’ lack of physical activity rather than the food.” Sweltering heat, lack of public transport, and few opportunities to even walk outside mean Southerners are extremely sedentary. That, plus food and poverty, means obesity.

So there you have it. Southerners have little access to healthy food and limited means with which to purchase it. It’s hard for us to exercise outdoors, and even when we do have the opportunity, it’s usually so hot, we don’t want to.

In Starkville, that’s a very bad excuse.  Humphrey Coliseum is open at least five days a week to walkers.  Six turns around “The Hump” make a mile.  It’s warm in winter, and cool during the long hot summer months. And if you really want to walk off the fried stuff in a hurry, you can go into the arena and climb the stairs.

I’m putting on my walking shoes and heading that way right this instant.  Got my I-Pod loaded and locked.

I’d like to organize a walking club, so if anyone in my town wants to participate let me know.  We can have some fun while being healthy.  What a winning combination.

Ranking highest among U. S. cities in obesity:

Memphis, Tennessee – 34% obese. Causes of the high rate of obesity include high rates of poverty, Southern hospitality and Southern cooking featuring fried foods.
Birmingham, Alabama: 31.3% obese.

6 thoughts on “Does living in the Deep South make you fat?

  1. Emily—our Sportsplex is a great place to walk——and, the floor is soft and easier on your feet.

    Shirley D.

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