Why is Louisiana still one of the most obese states?
With over 33% of adults considered obese in Louisiana according to the CDC's latest numbers, what's fueling the crisis?
A new government survey shows 12 states, including Louisiana, now have very high obesity rates, despite 20 years of efforts to reverse that trend.
"We have a culture that promotes eating and eating to excess unfortunately," says Dr. Melinda Sothern, Professor of Public Health at LSU Health Sciences Center. But she says, "It is very easy to take the type of food we eat in South Louisiana and make it healthy," by changing to healthier oils and changing some other unhealthy ingredients. She says our spices actually lend themselves to weight loss cooking, since they add a lot of flavor with no added calories.
But the other big problem she says is that people don't believe what doctors are saying about the health effects of being overweight. (Recent studies have shown a link to cancer and obesity, in addition to other well known effects like diabetes and heart disease.)
Dr. Sothern also directs the Health Promotion Program at LSUHSC and she says local people just don't believe that changing ingredients and not eating sugar will actually make a difference. "A lot of individuals believe that they inherited the problem."
It was just seven years ago when no state in the nation had a obesity rate higher than 30%. Since 2009 the issue has intensified in America, and Louisiana has really seen a huge increase as experts say it's much more acceptable to be fat in this state.
Dr. Sothern also says locally the obese are not believing what doctors are saying that making small changes to recipes and exercise habits will actually make a difference.
Overall, more than a third of adults are obese but rates vary by state. The latest figures are based on a 2011 telephone survey that asked adults their height and weight. For the first time, households with only cell phones were included. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, which released the figures on Monday.
State rates remained about the same although states with very high rates went from nine to 12. At least 30 percent of adults are obese not only in Louisiana, but also in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
Colorado was lowest, at just under 21 percent, and Mississippi was highest at nearly 36 percent.