Southerners Not Fat, Just Honest
Southerners lie about their weight--but not as much as those lyin' Yankees.
Southerners lie about their weight–but not as much as those lyin’ Yankees.
Al.com (“People in the South are not so fat after all — and they lie less“):
The South often gets tagged with having the most obese population.
But it doesn’t appear to be true, a University of Alabama at Birmingham study suggests.
The study recently published in the journal Obesity found that there’s a significantly higher percentage of obese people in a region of central and northwest states including Minnesota, Kansas and North and South Dakota.
“What we found is the West North Central region has about 41 percent obesity compared to 31 percent obesity in the southern region that includes Alabama and Mississippi,” said George Howard, professor in the Department of Biostatics at UAB. “By the way, 31 percent is not a good thing — but it’s not at the bottom.”
How did Southerners get such a fat reputation? Apparently because they are more truthful.
The notion that the South is the fattest comes primarily from a nationwide telephone survey done by the Centers for Disease Control, in which the surveyor asks for height and weight, among other things, Howard said.
That survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), shows the South as the most obese, with Mississippi and Alabama, the number one and two fattest states respectively.
But the UAB researchers found that when people were actually weighed, the numbers didn’t add up.
Mississippi was fourth and Alabama was in the middle of the pack, Howard said.
The numbers come from UAB’s long-running REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study.
By comparing the BRFSS self-reported weight data with the REGARDS scale-weight data, researchers found that most everyone fudges, or underreports, their weight when asked on a telephone.
Turns out that Southerners fudge less, he said.
The study analyzed the weights in the nine geographic regions used by the U.S. Census Bureau.
It found that the West North Central region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota, ranked fourth in obesity by the telephone survey results. But when actually weighed in the REGARDS study, people from that region ranked first in the nation for obesity.
In the telephone survey results, the East South Central region, which includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, ranked highest. But when weighed, that southern region ranked fifth.
“It is hard to know exactly what is going on, but my speculation is that people in the South are telling the truth more,” Howard said. “Perhaps there is not as much stigma connected to obesity as say someone in California, or in this case, Minnesota.”
Go figure: the people who gave us fried turkey and fried okra are fat but don’t pretend not to be.