Archive for April, 2013

When we moved to Mississippi, I happily picked up the habit of eating “soul food” with all its abundance of fat. Who can resist southern fried chicken or greens with fatback? Previously we lived in an area where fresh seafood influenced my palate.

We may retain food preferences, but most people acclimate to the food culture surrounding them. I was no different. As a dietitian, I could readily see why Mississippi led the nation in the percentage of obese people. Sometimes being number one isn’t a good thing. In recent years, several communities and cities in the state have made strides toward more healthful living. How refreshing to learn we have been displaced as the state with the highest percentage of obese people.

The 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index identified West Virginia as the most obese state with 33.5 percent of its population in that category. The health department director from West Virginia blamed the change on fewer physical jobs and the increased availability of fast foods. The state shifted from one dependent on blue-collar workers to greater unemployment and changes in occupations. In addition to fast-foods, citizens have availed themselves of the ready access to junk food.

Unfortunately, Mississippi ranked second (32.2 percent) as the state with the most obese people followed by Arkansas (31.4 percent), Louisiana (30.9 percent), and Alabama (30.4 percent). Colorado remains the healthiest state based on an obesity rate of 18.7 percent.

National rates of obesity continue to rise. But that’s not all. Obesity has a tendency not to stand alone. West Virginia also had the highest rates of elevated blood pressure and diabetes. After West Virginia, the top states for high blood pressure included Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas, and those with the highest rates of diabetes were Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana, and South Carolina.

After Colorado, the healthiest states for blood pressure were Wyoming, Utah, Alaska, and Minnesota and for diabetes, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, and Rhode Island.

Poor health habits correlate with high obesity levels. Disease conditions most often associated with obesity in addition to blood pressure and diabetes are:

  • high cholesterol
  • heart attack
  • knee pain
  • headaches
  • depression

Lifestyle practices most associated with lower obesity rates include:

  • healthy eating
  • frequent exercise
  • non-smoking
  • easy access to a place for exercise.

The evidence is clear. Regardless in which state you live, you are more than a statistic. Just because you may live in a state with a high level of obesity doesn’t seal your fate. Nor does living in a state with higher health rates offer you much advantage. You don’t have to be among the fattest. It’s up to you. Live healthy.


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It’s a given—if we keep breathing, we will get older. How do you feel about those years piling up? Do you perceive yourself as “old?”

Researchers questioned more than 900 women ages eighteen to eighty-seven from America, Britain, and Australia as to whether they succumbed to “old talk”—a term referring to body dissatisfaction resulting from physical signs of aging. Women were divided into four age groups. Nearly all women admitted to sometimes engaging in old talk. Surprisingly, nearly half the women in the youngest group (aged 18 to 29) occasionally fell into that category. As expected, old talk was more common in the two oldest groups, women aged forty-six or older.

What about you? Do you freak out over one gray hair or crow’s feet growing around your eyes? If you dwell on bodily appearance and perceive yourself as becoming old, it can affect mental and physical health. Body dissatisfaction correlates with eating disorders, depression, decreased quality of life, and more negative feelings than pleasant ones.

We are an age-conscious culture, especially women. Society may consider older men as distinguished or handsome, but not so with women. A civilized society may base old talk on a false identity of looking like a younger generation. Most U. S. magazines choose models between ages eighteen and thirty. As we naturally become older—through the process of aging—we physically move away from that ideal of flawless skin, glossy hair, and trim figures perpetuated by media. Yet many women tend to hold on to that image. This may help account for the five percent growth in cosmetic surgery from 2011 to 2012. Anti-aging procedures led the way in that increase.

We can’t change the number of years we have lived. Chronological age continues. But we can change the way we think. Positive attitudes can help us remain younger both physically and mentally.

While this study had nothing to do with nutrition, what we eat does influence the aging process. Eating well helps to maintain quality of life into later years. Proper nutrition causes us to feel and look better. But it probably isn’t going to do much for those gray hairs.

Reference:  http://www.jeatdisord.com/content/1/1/6

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