The American South is the most obese region in the country because of a “perfect storm” of factors, Claire Suddath writes for Time. Mississippi, whose 33% adult obesity rate makes it the fattest state, is also the poorest, with 21% of people living under the poverty line. That means less money for healthy food, and fewer places to get it. But other poor states are relatively thin—what accounts for the disparity?
It could be the food culture, Saddath writes, but “just as Californians don't actually live on wheat grass and tofu, Southerners don't really sit around eating fried chicken every day.” The clincher, a researcher says , is “Southerners' lack of physical activity rather than the food.” Sweltering heat, lack of public transport, and few opportunities to even walk outside mean Southerners are extremely sedentary. That, plus food and poverty, means obesity. (Read more obesity stories.)