The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a research report that stated the southern states has the largest rates of obesity.

I find their research to be true while one-dimensional in nature as it fails to address several causes and enablers of the vicious cycle beyond the immediate reach of the CDC itself.  Addressing the obesity rates in the US requires the entire presidential cabinet and placement as a high priority for the President of the United States.

There are several factors beyond the report that I believe contribute to obesity in the south.

1.  The southern states contained more slaves and subsequent racism than the rest of the country.

Being the location of the agricultural crops and plantations that housed slavery to grow the United States, opportunities after the slavery ended did not include the economic development and recreational avenues to make weight loss and management widely available and sought.  There were more pressing issues for the ancestors of today's obese.

I theorize that there is a very strong correlation between the number of deaths and lynchings and factors of race to today's obesity rates within the nation and the same states at the top of the obesity rates once led the nation in racist deaths and murders.

Jim Crow laws that historically made swimming pools, country clubs, and other recreational venues "separate while unequal" and off-limits and unsecure did not boost the desire to move around often with the threat of going missing and becoming "strange fruit" without warning often for sport at the hands of KKK wannabes and gonna-bes. 

The threat of losing one's life at the hands of those wishing the days of slavery had not ended clearly would produce an incentive to sit on one's derriere in fear and this school of thought has been passed down through the years.

The cure in part is to provide sufficient and realistic economic development within the southern states and expand the number of swimming pools, parks, and other public recreational venues and the rates of obesity should decrease over time.  Personal security and crime rates must be taken into account still even within the southern states.

Overweight people typically watch more television due to high unemployment rates which is an economic disease and cause that produces a physical, detrimental result of obesity.  The physically disabled living within the southern states would become more fit if there were more economic incentives and rewards (whether through entrepreneurial opportunities or employment opportunities) that enticed them to travel more and get in shape as a result of traveling beyond the southern states.  Many things contributing to obesity and poverty alike feed upon themselves like multiplication and grow exponentially.

2.  The southern states have lower educational achievement rates than the rest of the country.

The social promotion, illiteracy, and drop out rates among the southern states are simply atrocious and the entire United States and its citizens should be ashamed.

It is not sufficient for a multinational company to have a manufacturing plant in a town or city where the residents believe that they have made it to the big time by working in such crab barrels.  Until the local economic development is raised to reward those who academically achieve, the entire region will continue in their attempts to walk up the sliding board while the shiny slope perpetually works against them.

When people have enough education to produce the wealth and confidence to move away from an area, the obesity rates will naturally fall as a result.  Right now, the lower educational achievement rates are contributing to the higher crime rates which either kill or incarcerate those who are physically fit enough to commit the crimes.  The remaining survivors are victims who are waiting their turn in the barber's chair to become a crime statistic or become obese during this wait!

3.  The southern states are far warmer than the rest of the country.

As a result of the warmer climate, residents of southern states are not provided with any rewards for physically moving around often through walking, jogging, or running.  In colder states, motion produces heat which keeps a person warm.  In the south, moving around produces heat which there is already an abundance of.  Not until the excess energy and activity can be directed to losing weight will residents have a constructive reason to be active especially during the summer months.

The cure in part would be to provide some governmental program or benefit just as the insurance of those living within flood plains or those whose homes are at risk of falling into the receding coast lines as in California where the southern residents will be able to work out inside of buildings that are air conditioned.

It may be said that if an air conditioned building had a recreational attraction and/or financial incentive that reduced or eliminated the need to be outdoors in the summer heat, then the obesity rates would decrease.  The country will either pay one way or another and there is no getting around it.

The numbers of indoor basketball and racquetball courts, gyms, and dance studios within the southern states on a per capita basis are clearly lower in the high obesity states.  Combine this with a lower rate of swimming pools and people who know and have demonstrated that they know how to swim, then there is a visible need to break ground in building facilities not just known as recreational centers but government (county, state, or federal) weight loss centers as in diabetes control and prevention or heart disease control and prevention centers.

4.  The amount of public transportation and infrastructure is far lower within the southern states than the rest of the country.

Anywhere that one travels within the southern states requires transportation as compared to the subways, rail, and bus systems found elsewhere nationwide.  During my own visit to Jersey City, NJ and New York in 2007, I discovered that one could travel as desired without a car and was actually penalized by having a vehicle due to the high parking lot rates.

As a result of low mass transit costs and high personal car ownership costs and very counter-intuitively, walking within the northern states generates a daily work out activity within itself as well as providing welcomed warmth within the cooler climates.  No one in the northern states looks to catch a cab, bus, or train for a distance of 10 blocks or less.  In the south, the same distance still does not bring one closer to any facilities or venues of interest:)

5.  Food simply tastes better in the south than in the rest of the country.  This may restart a civil war, but I was born in Jersey City, NJ and raised in Nichols, SC from the age of 6 years old:)

Festive occasions may take place more often in the cooler states than in the south due to the density of people, but when there is a party, celebration, or other happy event taking place within the south, the emphasis and standards of the food involved are much higher than in cooler states where the focus is likely to be placed on the alcohol served and consumed.  This is directly from my own family experiences and observations. 

In every bar within cooler states, there is a wall to wall display of what beverages may be mixed, served, and refilled.  In the south, the same wall to wall coverage and respect is only payed if the pans of food continually flow without hesitation and freshness is maintained.

As a by-product of this line of thinking,  motion burns calories and hunger combined with poverty restricts motion.  To find a restaurant serving great food in a cooler state will cause one to walk a greater distance to find the food which leads to burning the calories from the great meal.

But those in cooler states that have a cup looking for spare change are more obese than the rest of the cooler climate residents and homeless outside of the southern states.

The poor in the rural south are not going to burn calories walking around great distances looking for food.  Any distance greater than a walk to the mailbox or financial institution (whether it is FDIC insured or has multiple displays of beverage distributors) is not likely going to produce a find of food of any type.  In other words if you don't know if somebody else is cooking, then keep your broke rear end home.

The only cure for my fifth theory of southern obesity is that the cooler states will have to learn how to cook and prepare food better to compete with the southern states which will lead to higher rates of obesity within the cooler states and artificially lower the obesity rates of southern states:)

There may be more food critics, publications, and restaurants of fine dining outside of the southern states but on a per capita basis or square mileage, the south has won the war of repeat visits to the buffet bar.  It is not called southern hospitality for nothing!

6.  Black women in greater numbers do not know how to swim.

I just looked at the Associated Press article to see that black women were specifically mentioned as being highly represented as obese and came up with this theory.

Resolving this theory may possibly address a few of my earlier theories at the same time.  I believe that the best venue to address this (and many others) will be through the Black Church in America.

If more black churches had swimming pools of their own or should seek continual access to swimming pools and taught their black sisters how to swim, you would see changes within this country on so many levels that US Senator Barack Obama's presidential hopes and campaign would be an understatement.

The confidence within black women, black children, and marriage rates would skyrocket with domestic abuse falling like meteors based on fulfilling this objective alone.  Even comically aside is the fact that African-American sisters decked out in swimming suits and bikinis would give black men more incentives to stay home to provide for their families economically and avoid being separated from their families via potential criminal activity as a perpetuator or victim:)

I am not running for president or political office and can say these things truthfully and openly without fear of public retribution or restraint:)

As thought provoking and humorous as I have tried to be in proposing some thoughts and a different perspective on the obesity rates in the south, there is a lot of work to be done in changing the minds and hearts of those who hold the purse strings directly and indirectly contributing as legislators to the obesity rates as well as those who are keeping obesity rates high within themselves unnecessarily and intentionally or not.

Only through the courage of questioning and challenging the concepts of what produced the negative trends and what is keeping us here will provide the context in which the true solutions and cures for obesity will come to light.

Peace!

 

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