Once again Mississippi is numero uno in America when it comes to obesity, with over 33 percent of residents officially obese. And once again Colorado is the slimmest, coming in just under 20 percent. (Massachusetts is ranked 48th, with 21.7 percent.)
As usual the focus is on why and how: Why are we fat and how do we fix it?
The report from the Trust for America’s Health offers a slew of government-focused solutions: Support farmers’ markets and improve school lunch nutrition and health care guidance.
But the government’s track record on obesity shows that bureaucrats and pols shouldn’t be relied on for a weight-loss plan.
The best strategy to fighting this battle of the bulge lies in another of the report’s findings: Massive Mississippi has the highest rate of inactivity – while svelte Colorado has the second lowest.
Coincidence? Not likely.
It’s a pattern that runs throughout the states. States like Tennessee, Alabama, and West Virginia have top 10 rates for both obesity and couch potatoes. Meanwhile, states like Utah, Vermont, and Hawaii are in the top 10 for being both slim and active.
It’s not that people in Dixie have larger appetites than Coloradoans and Hawaiians. It’s simply that after a day of hiking, skiing or surfing, it’s easier to keep off the weight by balancing calories in (from food) and calories expended (through exercise).
Is it that simple? Aren’t restaurants to blame? They’re certainly a common target. Greasy fast-food, large portions and convenience must be a culprit, right? Not exactly.
The University of California-Berkeley and Northwestern University looked for a relationship between living near restaurants and the prevalence of obesity. Bottom line: Nada.
It’s an inconvenient truth for the steady cadre of public health experts and food police who are yearning for strong government controls – read: taxes and bans – on foods and business they deem unhealthy. Their goal is to take away choices in the name of health.
But we need not get heartburn over the food fanatics who are trying to shove their agendas down our collective throats.
If we eat in moderation and get plenty of exercise, we can have our cake and eat it, too.