Obesity in the Southern United States
There is much to be said for the South. It is beautiful, and it is historic. Savannah and Charleston are particularly impressive although there is much more to the region than two cities albeit wonderful cities.
There is also the cuisine of the South, yummies like fried catfish, hush puppies, BBQ ribs, pork, and shrimp po’ boys. All of them might be tasty enough, but…
A Regional Problem
While there is a nationwide obesity epidemic, there seems to be more cause for concern in points south. Many who live in southern states maintain a diet that consists largely of salty, high fat foods and sugary drinks. Consuming this nature of diet leads to an increased risk for obesity and the health problems that accompany obesity.
The obesity epidemic has had roots in this region that run a bit deeper than in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. Fifty-four percent of Southerners define their weight as overweight or obese.
On the up side, Southerners recognize the situation for what it is. Seventy-seven percent of Southerners feel they could benefit from immediate weight loss and a great many feel they are not getting enough exercise or physical activity. In addition, more people in the South believe that obesity is the result of genetics rather than what they eat or how much they exercise than do people in other regions. Southerners also have the lowest percentage of people who believe that obesity is a problem in the United States.
Only thirty-six percent of Southerners report ever having been successful with a diet or having lost weight. Although speaking with a doctor is a good first step for addressing obesity and changes in diet, less than half of those who live in the South have done so.
Children in the South
Youngsters in the Southeast are more likely to be overweight or obese than in any other region with the cause identified as eating foods that are high in calories and saturated fat. Sedentary lifestyles were also identified as being causal.
Although more people in the South believe that obesity is a genetic problem than in any other region, 88% of Southerners feel that the cause is poor diet and poor exercise habits.
Southerners said that felt they could do a better job of providing healthy food choices for their children as well as do a better job of encouraging their children to exercise. The percentage recorded for both was higher than in any other region.
Of the ten states with the worst poverty levels, all ten are in the south or southwest. Mississippi ranks first with 24% of the population living below poverty level. Mississippi also has the highest obesity rate.
Those with less money have a tendency to eat more calorie-dense foods because they are cheaper. Poor neighborhoods also have less grocery stores.
The bottom line is that Southerners have limited access to healthy foods and limited means for purchase.
Living life well-fed,
My Bariatric Life
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