The Fatness Factor

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fatness.jpegAs noted in this space a few days ago, the red states have higher rates of divorce, teen birth, and subscriptions to online porn than the blue states. But what about that all-important Moral Value of our time…weight? How do the states stack up on that one?

Well, according to the latest Obesity Report Card from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the partisan divide is pretty clear. Separating the states (plus D.C.) into red and blue according to their vote in last year’s presidential election, nine of the fattest 11 states (there was a tie for 10th) voted for McCain, while eight of the 10 leanest went for Obama. Dividing the states down the middle, of the 26 states with the highest obesity rates, 18 voted for McCain; while of the 25 with the lowest, 20 voted for Obama. Overall, 18 of the 23 states won by McCain were in the more obese group, while 20 or the 28  states won by Obama were in the less obese.

Put in regional terms (according to our Religion by Region definitions), the Southern Crossroads (TX, OK, MO, AR, LA) and the South win the obesity sweepstakes, with average state rankings of 10.2 and 11.5 respectively. New England is least obese with a ranking of 44.5, with the Pacific (CA, NV, HI) next in line at 40. Naturally, the Southern Crossroads and South are the country’s reddest regions, while New England and the Pacific are the bluest. By the way, the former are the country’s most evangelical regions, the latter the most Catholic.

Make of this what you will.

  • Anonymous

    Having grown up in and lived a decade or so of my adult life in two of the most obese states, LA and TX, I can tell you that, while these states may be Red as a whole, it is their Blue people who make them obese. Specifically, in LA and TX, there is a high correlation between the three variables of political party affiliation, obesity and race. These two states have large numbers of African-American and Hispanic citizens who almost all vote Democratic. The white citizens, of course, mostly vote Republican or these would not be Red states. The African-Americans and Hispanics of these states are MUCH more likely to be obese than the whites. So, white voters make these states Red, but African-American and Hispanic people make them obese. Having traveled through the South, I think that my observation about LA and TX is likely applicable throughout the South. I would not be surprised if New England and the Pacific, the two least obese regions, have the smallest percentages of African-American and Hispanic citizens.

  • Mark Silk

    What Anonymous says cannot account for the very high obesity rankings of West Virginia and Kentucky, which have tiny black and Hispanic populations–nor for Tennessee or Oklahoma, whose black and Hispanic populations total 20 percent or less. On the other hand, California, which ranks 41st on the obesity scale, is 43 percent black and Hispanic. No, you’ve got to look at culture and, in particular, foodways. And as anyone who has lived in the South knows, black and white foodways are pretty durn similar there.

  • Asinus Gravis

    Let me recommend that “Anonymous” (and others tempted by that argument) take a casual look at the pictures that appear in papers and on TV (from the Red States) of the grade school children and high school children, including beauty queens/homecoming queens and their courts. There you will SEE the widespread white obesity that is rampant in those parts of the country.
    For what it is worth, I’ve lived in KY, OK, and TX; and I visited in most of the rest of the red states, as well as many blue states.