Experts say Mississippians need to skip the gravy, say no to the fried pickles and start taking brisk walks to battle an epidemic of obesity. A new study says this Deep South state is the fattest in the nation.
The Trust for America's Health, a research group that focuses on disease prevention, says Mississippi is the first state where more than 30 percent of adults are considered obese.
Aside from making Mississippi the inevitable butt of late-night talk show jokes, the obesity epidemic has serious implications for public policy over the next several decades.
If current trends hold, Mississippi could face enormous increases in the already significant costs of treating diabetes, heart disease and other ailments caused by the extra poundage.
Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, and the Delta is the poorest region of Mississippi.
Dr. Marshall Bouldin, director of the diabetes and metabolism center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, says that if the Delta counties were excluded, Mississippi would rank about 30th in diabetes problems in the United States.
Trust for America's Health rankings:
1. Mississippi - 30.6%
2. West Virginia - 29.8%
3. Alabama - 29.4%
4. Louisiana - 28.2%
5. South Carolina - 27.8%