Woah: Southerners Aren’t More Obese Than The Rest Of America, They’re More Honest

Prepare for your mind to be blown by statistics. Buckled in? Hands and arms inside the vehicle? Ok: a recent study by the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) suggested that contrary to popular opinion and stacks of research, Southern states (everything listed in orange below) do not have the highest obesity rates in the United States — that honor goes to the cold, “West North Central” states of Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota.

“But the South has fried chicken!” you might gasp. “But Paula Deen is from the South! Everyone in the South is coated in bacon lard and butter sticks! How can this be so?”

According to The Birmingham News, this misconception comes from the Center for Disease Control, which gathers data on obesity through a nationwide telephone survey. Southerners were more likely to honestly report their weight (because they ain’t got nothin’ to hide with them lard crusts), whereas their insecure neighboring regions were more likely to knock off a few (or twenty) pounds from the truth. Thus, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) showed the South as the fattest region, with 31% of their population classifying themselves as obese. (This explains why, despite all our attempts to the contrary, Deen was never ashamed that she got big.)

However, when UAB compared that with data measuring people’s actual weights, pulled from their own long-running survey monitoring stroke factors, they realized that while the South had all the horrible symptoms associated with strokes, they weren’t the fattest — by a long shot. All the Northern states listed above had a collective obesity rate of 41% — ten points higher than that of the South.

While, granted, the UAB study had a much more limited survey pool that might be geographically skewed towards the South, the result challenges everything we thought about the South and their eating habits. We’re not too surprised about the Midwestern states having high obesity rates, what with all that corn, and beer, and beef. We’re sorry for making fun of you, Southerners. (But we’re still gonna make fun of Paula Deen.)


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