The health zealots at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a close ally of the food cops at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have come out with the 2009 version of their obesity report card, grading America “F as in Fat.” But once again, the weight police ignored the opportunity to examine the whys behind increasing obesity rates before assigning the country a failing grade.
From the report:
Mississippi had the highest rate of adult obesity at 32.5 percent, making it the fifth year in a row that the state topped the list. Four states now have rates above 30 percent, including Mississippi, Alabama (31.2 percent), West Virginia (31.1 percent), and Tennessee (30.2 percent). Eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of obese adults are in the South. Colorado continued to have the lowest percentage of obese adults at 18.9 percent.
The researchers drew the conclusion that the economic crisis may cause families to give up on paying more for healthy food, making fast food the only low-cost option for families. Of course, they conveniently forgot that many healthy foods – like rice, beans, potatoes, and fresh produce – are easily affordable for anyone who can splurge on a fast-food meal.
More significantly, 9 of the 10 most obese states also rank as the most sedentary, according to government surveys. The residents of RWJF’s most obese state, Mississippi, also report the lowest rates of leisure-time physical activity in the country.
Yet none of those 10 most-overweight states has the highest concentration of fast-food restaurants in the country. Mississippi is the state with the third-lowest in fast food density (70.6 establishments per 100,000 people), whereas Colorado, the fittest state, ranks in the top ten (86 per 100,000). Coloradoans are also known for their exercise habits, including skiing, biking, running, and boating.
A coincidence? Hardly. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Weight control is an equation of both “calories in” and “calories-out.” Ignoring the role that physical activity plays means public health activists will forever find themselves running in circles, wondering why the country isn’t slimming down.