FYI: Obesity and Poverty

by Bella Rum

You know how Americans love lists. As I’ve written before, magazine sales go through the roof whenever they publish lists of the top ten best towns in America, top ten best foods, worst foods, best wines, worst dressed, best dressed, etc.

The latest list comes to us, not from the slick pages of a glitzy mag, but from a much less glamorous source, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They released a study which ranks U.S. cities based on the health of their citizens.

The city to earn the decidedly disagreeable moniker of unhealthiest city in America is Huntington, West Virginia. Nearly half of its citizens are overweight.
Burlington, Vermont claims home to the healthiest citizens. Ninety two percent assert that they are in good or great health. (Wouldn’t you like to know who the remaining 8% are?) Burlington is also among the highest in exercise and among the lowest in obesity, and diabetes.

Go, Burlington!

The study found that the frequency of obesity in a particular location is directly linked to poverty. Huntington’s poverty rate is higher than the national average. In Burlington only 8% live at the federal poverty level, (Hum, methinks we just found that 8 percent!) compared to 19% in Huntington.

Burlington offers many vegan options. Bulk grains and rice are available to low income families. Fresh vegetables are found in abundance at local markets. In Huntington, the options for the poor include pizza, KFC, and other fast food bargains. Oh, yea, donuts, they offer lots of donuts. How bad could that be?

The citizens of Burlington seem to enjoy biking, walking, gardening and other physical activities. There are few parks in Huntington or even sidewalks to encourage outdoor activity.

I see a pattern developing here.

Smoking in restaurants and bars is allowed in Huntington. Unbelievably, they’re still lighting up in hospitals there.

Dr. John Walden, chair of family and community health at Marshall University in Huntington said,

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a place where I’ve seen so many overweight people.”

This is a very observant doctor.

I would offer more keen insights, but I suddenly feel like taking a walk.