Is the south really the fattest region of the United States? Or is it all a crock based on bad science? A study recently published in Obesity and performed by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) suggested southerners aren’t the fattest after all.
We’ve all heard the usual grim statistics about how obesity is running riot through the United States, especially the poor southern states. According to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state of Mississippi was the fattest state, with a nearly 35 percent obesity rate.
Louisiana, West Virginia, and Alabama were the other three members of the top four fattest states — southern states all, if you consider West Virginia the south, which I suppose it (barely) is. All four states had obesity rates of 32 percent or greater.
The CDC also said that the south was the fattest region, with overall obesity rates running around 29.5 percent.
The UAB researchers challenged that claim by looking at US Census Bureau data as well as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. One of the study’s authors, Dr. George Howard, said that previous state-by-state rankings had come from self-reported weight information — which is an absolutely terrible method for gathering data if you want the truth about what people actually weigh.
Let’s face it. People lie about their weight.
So the team used the census and other objective surveys to figure out what people actually DID weigh, instead of what they claimed to weigh. As a result, the researchers discovered that people in the south lie the least. And that, in turn, means they admit to weighing more than people from other regions.
Howard commented: “People from the South come closer to telling the truth than people from other regions, perhaps because there’s not the social stigma of being obese in the South as there is in other regions.”
What states are really the fattest? Well, if you live in what the UAB team called the “west north central” part of the country — the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri — I’ve got bad news.
Howard said that region had a whopping 41 percent obesity rate. That definitely makes them by far the fattest states. And the biggest liars.
[pork chops photo by Watstinwoods via Wikipedia Commons]