America has the most obese people in the world. The South is known for its delicious food but at the same time the negative part about it is that the obesity rate is the highest. Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee are leading the nation’s top 3 in number of most obese people. What are the factors that make such a huge difference between the South and the North and what can people do about it?
I cannot talk about the South or America in general without comparing it to other countries in the world, and mostly to my home country Estonia. Growing up in Estonia, main things I heard about America was that there are a lot of fat people, so many McDonald’s restaurants, and everything is big in there. As a child or a teenager my friends and I were jealous because we did not have no McDonald’s or any other type of fast food restaurant in my home town. We had to go to capital city to get some burgers and fries. For us it was like a special treatment when we ate some burgers. All we ate was homemade and home grown food. I never went out to a restaurant to eat with my family. We all ate together at home. Even now in 2013, you do not find fast food restaurants in every corner of a street. To be honest, people do not even like that food, plus it is more expensive than healthy food. Now, comparing this situation with my 5 year experience in America and mostly in Memphis, I can tell that the stories about America having a lot of fat people and many fast food place is so true. Honestly, it is ridiculous!
There are obviously reasons why the South has more obese people. Lower incomes make people buy cheaper food. Fast food is cheap in America and it is accessible 24hours. Isn’t it wonderful? Whenever you get hungry you can get some food at any time of the day and only for 1 dollar? That sounds like great deal..BUT I don’t think that way anymore. I used to think it is awesome to go to grocery store at midnight and get whatever I wanted until I started gaining weight. Then I realized it is not fun at all. There is no grocery store in the whole country that is open 24hrs in Estonia. If you are hungry and have nothing to eat then you better wait until the morning. I believe it is great! Nobody should be eating at midnight anyway. That’s one of the reasons why there are many people who are overweight. Moreover, the portions are so much bigger. People will not leave the restaurant until they are so stuffed that they cannot even breathe anymore. Of course, sometimes, I do it as well. I love to eat, I am an athlete, I love food in general, but it is definitely not a good idea to have big portions of food every day.
Another very important part about why the South has more obese people is the lack of physical activity. People do not exercise enough. You have to have a car to get around. When I first came here, I couldn’t believe that Memphis does not have a well-organized public transportation system. Also, I barely see people walking or riding a bicycle on the streets. I always felt so uncomfortable when I walked somewhere, I felt like people think I am crazy. In Europe people think you are crazy if you drive a car everywhere.
I believe that the obesity in the South and in America is a huge issue. Healthy food should not cost more than unhealthy one. Moreover, there has to be more physical activities in elementary and high schools. Parents have to pay attention to their children and promote healthy lifestyle in order to live longer. Grocery stores should not be open 24 hrs and there is no need for McDonald’s in every corner of a street. Also, the city of Memphis should definitely fix the sidewalks and promote walking and riding a bicycle more than they do right now!