Obesity in Mississippi is a complex problem

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A recent study conducted by an epidemiologist with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 31 percent of adults in the United States are obese. The same study found that 15 percent of children and teenagers from age 6 to 19 are overweight.

These numbers represent a significant portion of the population, and the health risks related to obesity are numerous. One of the most prevalent conditions found in obese people is heart disease, which according to the CDC, is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Around 600,000 people die from heart disease in this country every year, and obesity is one of the factors that can put an individual at risk.

Mississippi is routinely ranked near the top of the nation’s most obese states. In March of 2014, a Gallup poll revealed that 35.4 percent of Mississippians were obese.

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The problem seems simple on its surface – eat less and exercise more. But it’s more complex than that.

Exercise is an intuitive suggestion, but it is a futile endeavor if an individual does not follow it up with proper nutrition. A poor diet is at the root of the problem.

Mississippi is consistently ranked amongst the poorest states in the union. With the number of people in the state living on a very tight budget, the obesity statistics begin to make more sense.

The nutrition labels on the cheapest foods in grocery stores leave a lot to be desired from a health standpoint, yet this is all some people can afford. The fact remains, eating a nutritional and organic meal can be very expensive in Mississippi.

Like anything else, obesity does not exist in a vacuum. Mississippi’s problems of poverty and obesity, as well as the diseases associated with it, are cyclical.

Adjustments must be made to keep people healthy. The problem will not be resolved overnight, but the next generation of Mississippians deserves healthier food at a reasonable price.