Booster Shots

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Yeah, we're fat. But not as fat as Southerners

July 18, 2008 |  2:15 pm

Way to go, California! We managed not to top the chart in the latest obesity rankings. That honor goes to Mississippi.

Here's the AP story: Cluster of Southern states, topped by Mississippi, remain most obese, new US survey finds (we don't control the grammar in those Latest AP News headlines, btw).

Poor Mississippi. I'm sure it tries. Really, I'm sure it does. But have you had Southern food? It's almost impossible to stay skinny on. Which may be why a whopping 32% of that state's population is reportedly obese.

Alabama and Tennessee aren't far behind, with 30.3% and 30.1%, respectively.

Colorado apparently doesn't have time to eat, what with all that biking and hiking and skiing and what-not. Its obesity rate was 18.7%, the lowest in the nation. (I'm aware that the good news here is simply a matter of comparison.)

And California? It ranked on the relatively healthy end of the scales with an obesity rate of only 22.6% (that's right -- I said "only").

The numbers and rankings aren't surprising, I suppose, but they're fun for data junkies and the can't-get-enough-bad-news crowd. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has even provided an accompanying animated map showing how the prevalence of obesity has changed by state from 1985 through 2007. It's horrifying and riveting at the same time -- kind of like driving by the scene of an accident.

Most of the country used to be a soothing blue (rates under 19%). Now a staggering percentage is an alarming red (25% or higher). And you can spare your friendly "liberal media" representative the rant about "blue" being good and "red" being bad. The CDC came up with those colors, not me.

At this point in the post I could offer up links to the approximately 600 stories the Health section has done so far this year on nutrition, weight loss, eating healthfully, etc. I could even share the recent studies on which diets work and which work not at all. But what the heck. I don't know who's reading that stuff, but at least a quarter of the population doesn't seem to be.

And besides, it's been a rough week. So I'll bow to forces greater than myself (which is pretty much all of them, but most especially those pertaining to food marketing and sedentary leisure pursuits) and recommend the blackberry spice cake just brought in by former Food writer Charles Perry. The recipe? It's from the "Southern Cakes" cookbook.

-- Tami Dennis