Twin States High on "Fat-o-Meter"

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More than a quarter of residents in both Mississippi and Alabama are considered obese.

Dan Ward spends a lot of time at Anderson's Fitness Center in Meridian, working out and keeping in shape. The workout has become part of his weekly routine.

"I come out to stay fit, because I need to exercise," said Ward, "work out on the stairmaster and the free weights here."

Unfortunately, in Mississippi, there are not enough people like Ward, willing to do the work to keep off the pounds.

And fitness experts say that work includes more than just exercising, especially in the South, where deep fried foods are a way of life.

"You can out-eat any exercise program you're on," said personal fitness instructor Brandon Barr.

That's why Barr says what we eat is just as important as how active we are. He says for most of the Mississippians and Alabamans considered obese, it will be a matter of not just getting active, but also getting healthier foods in their diet.

"Deep fried and greasy as you can get it, even though it's good, it's doing your body a lot of harm," Barr said.

That's why Ward says he knows these workouts won't be enough.

"I just eat wisely and exercise," Ward said.

That's a combination that many in Mississippi and Alabama would do well to try.

Obesity Numbers:
Mississippi - 28.1%
Alabama - 27.7%
West Virginia - 27.6%
Louisiana - 25.8%
Tennessee - 25.6%