Roughly ninety-percent of the states whose leaders have toyed recklessly with secession rhetoric or with dopey and doomed legislation that would allow them to nullify acts of Congress, are also the states that routinely take in far, far more in federal taxes than they ever pay in. This is a well-established pattern. When you hear governors and legislators braying about how broken the federal government is, you can be sure the rant you're hearing is from someone whose state would dry up like a pitiful prune, wither and die within half a year, were it not for annual tax money from the rest of us. And a hell of a lot of it.
Talk about cash-for clunkers....
Now comes a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tells us how, in most of these same states, tons and tons of vats of fat are winning and winning big over the generous federal programs and subsidies for obesity prevention and general good health.
Obesity now grips over 30% of Americans in nine states.
Alabama Arkansas Kentucky
Louisiana Mississippi Missouri
Oklahoma Tennessee West Virginia
...with Magnolia Mint Julep Mississippi tipping the scale at 41.9% of its residents obese.
Washington, DC and Colorado alone have rates under 20%. Their residents evidence healthier food habits (more fruits and vegetables) and they tend more to walk or bike or subway to work more than they drive. So do people in the other states at the lower end of the chart.
So what's obese? If you've a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, you're obese. A guy 5' 10" at 209 is obese. A five-four woman at 174 is, too.
a) , b) or c) ?
This means that when you're walking slow and looking back over your shoulder, walking down Highway 49 in the Mississippi Delta, you really may run up against The Devil at The Crossroads where Blues Genius Robert Johnson traded his soul for fame. At the Infamous Intersection, 49 at 61, you may, on lonely, windy nights, still hear Mr. Johnson howling at the Devil and the Devil howling back. You can also get fries with that because a McD's is now smack-dab right there.
Obesity rates in adults in these states have doubled in recent dcades and in kids they've tripled. The costs, nationally, are about $150 billion annually in often avoidable costs of onset diabetes and heart disease, and in incidences of stroke, and cancer. And unsurprisingly, states where there are better high school and college graduation rates also have lower obesity rates.
Want really frightening?
Two and a half million more Americans grew obese between '07 and '09, raising the national total to seventy-two-and-a half million. That's just below 27% of our population. Imagine what the figure will be in 2011. And the CDC says these are almost certainly underestimates because men, women, and children typically lie about weight in nationwide phone surveys. (This is the way it's done because of doctor-patient confidentiality and because surveys of doctors about their patients in the aggregate may even be less reliable.)
I am certain that there are many in every state whose weights are tied to conditions that do, in fact, just happen, do defy healthy habits and are the result of integenerational family plagues. Yet it's also clear-as-a-bell that so much of this is not, that in a sense, people are increasingly choosing to be fat. If that weren't so, the numbers would be far different. And they're choosing to be fat and adding enormously to your health care burden most often in places that just should not ever dream of throwing stones, verbal or otherwise, at the their national government. They more than dream; their dismissive arrogance toward the rest of us, toward their country, is an approaching nightmare.