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America's porkiest cities: Where Michelle Obama can start fighting fat and obesity


First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a hopeless fight against American obesity with a program called "Let's Move."

No, not "Let's Move On to Dessert."

She goes to Mississippi Wednesday to fight fat and will be coming to a town near you soon to admirably promote healthier eating and more exercise, especially for youngsters. Trying to convince Americans that carrot cake is not a veggie should keep her plate full for however many presidential terms her pie-loving, cigarette-smoking husband wins.Michelle Obama getting off Air Force One in 2009

But now the Gallup Poll has helpfully come out with a study of 187 metropolitan areas across the country.

They looked at something called the Body Mass Index, which measures height and other numbers you don't want to know to decide if you -- yes, you reading this right now -- are officially obese.

The Officially Obesest Cities are a tie, ladies and gentlemen. Montgomery, Alabama and Stockton, California. Cake all around for everyone.

They came out with a 34.6% number of adults rated as obese. Ugh. That sounds awful, doesn't it? At least until you figure out your own obesity level based on Body Mass Index which, frankly, we intend to do sometime next weekend, probably.

That 34.6% of adults is way larger than the not-all-that-good-either-national-average of 26.5. That BMI poundage rate is like the unemployment rates these days, up from 2008's, at  25.5. (BTW, a BMI of 30 is officially obese; more than 25 is getting close.)

And here's the best part for any online readers munching a snack right now:

Those hoity-toity, glamorous, arrogant Californians who are always escaping the blizzards and complaining about freezing 50-degree temperatures cutting down their winter beach time, come off really, really badly.

All that bikini rollerblading you see in the TV shows apparently hasn't caught on for real.

Three of the nation's Top Ten grossest-fattest-lardiest metropolitan areas are in the Golden state, which should really be named for a species of french fry.

Visalia/Porterville comes in third place at 34.1%. And good old-boy Bakersfield comes in seventh at 33.6% of obese adults.

The York/Hanover area of tubby Pennsylvania comes in fourth at 34, followed by fatty Flint, Michigan at 33.9.

McAllen, Edinburg and Mission, Texas share the No. 6 spot with 33.7.

No. 8 is limping Lynchburg, Virginia at 33, the same as the Huntington/Ashland area of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Weighing in at No. 10 is the Kingsport/Bristol area of Tennessee/Virginia.

The survey found some common characteristics to the ten tubbiest towns: 

In none of them except Stockton (51%) do a majority claim to exercise frequently, not counting raising forks and spoons to the mouth area.

Nowhere do more than 62% admit to eating vegetables frequently.

And the smokers range from Visalia's 15.7% up to Lynchburg's 31.7%.

Somewhere, it must be dinner time.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press (Obama debarking Air Force One summer 2009).

Comments () | Archives (7)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Disgustingly prejudiced, you are.
Fat is not gross.
Only your attitude toward it.
Some of us are far healthier than our skinny friends. I personally haven't cost the health-care system one round dime in the past 10 years. And I'm 50, and have been fat all my life. If not for misguided efforts to try to slim down, I would probably be less fat - lose 5 after a hard-fought month, gain back 10 in two weeks, repeat repeat until you get off the diet treadmill.

Take everything in your story that describes a personal physical trait - fat, large, lard, whatever - and substitute another physical trait like, oh, say, skin color. Then see how funny you are. Fat is the last safe bigotry and I hope in my lifetime that will end. I'm sorry Michelle Obama isn't focusing on something that matters, like world peace.

I kinda think that the babe in the bikini is hot!

Why doesn't Michelle start fight fat and obesity in Washington. She should first start with her own fat self before she starts lecturing others on weight loss.

Calie Stephens

Mr. Malcolm I remember the last time politicians got on an anti-fat kick. Was it back in the '80s? Remember who and where the fattest people were said to be? Indian Reservations, poor rural Hispanic communities and whole states like West Virginia with chronic un-or-under-employment. Beans, rice, cornbread (or pozole or frybread) are cheaper than fruits and vegetables. It's even cheaper to feed a family off the value menu at fast food joints than it is to buy Chilean fruit and Mexican vegetables this time of year, (or any veg any time of year). Starting an anti-obesity platform at this time if the Obamans really think this is the worst economic crisis since 'the Great Depression' is like spending money on a rain festival in the middle of the Oklahoma dust bowl in the 30s. I'll bet you dollars to fat inducing doughnuts that most of the 'fattest towns' have some of the highest rates of unemployment. Oh well, as Michelle Antoinette says: Let them eat arugula.

Oh goodie. Now B.O.'s wife is gonna rescue us all from our fatness. Must be part of his plan to lower health care costs. LOL! Seriously, will Americans ever bother about how fat they are? Get exercise? Control their eating? Not if what I see every day at the malls is any indication. Never seen so many folks that look like they just swallowed 12 bowling balls. I wonder how many are gonna be diabetic and/or die of obesity related diseases. No matter what is done about health care, the fat epidemic is only beginning and will soon overwhelm medical care and zoom costs out of sight. Eat on you fatties.

Michelle need only take a walk down the streets of Washington D.C. to realize that the nations' capital is oozing with obesity, and people addicted to fatty foods. I read somewhere that D.C. had the highest rate of people on disability--i wonder how much of these 'disabilities' are weight-related?

No offense people but the problem with us is that we talk too much and becomes too defensive, I may be fat and all that but I don't think this idea is really bad at all. (I am not even an Obama supporter :>) Let's just see and hear what she got here before anything else.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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