It's always fun to visit a new place. I really enjoyed my time in Mississippi, although I only saw a small portion of the state. One thing struck me during my brief time there, however and it involves food. Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the country, with over 33% of the population considered obese.
Those who read this blog on a regular basis know that where there's obesity, Type II diabetes is right there too. So it should come as no surprise that 14.9% of the state's population have been diagnosed with this illness. Only West Virginia has a higher incidence of diabetes, but not by much.
These sad numbers came to life for me by two incidents that took place while I was visiting.My friend Will and I decided to go out for Mexican on Monday night. We went to a local family owned El Rancho restaurant, which turned out to be a great choice for us. They had a whole section of vegetarian choices, and they all looked like they would hit the spot :)
What prompted me to write about our experience there isn't what we ate, but rather what we saw. There was a family directly across from us, and each of them was obese. That's grandparents, parents and a child, five people altogether. When their food came, I was struck by what the father was eating. The food was served on a large platter that must have been twenty inches long.
On top of the Mexican food was a huge mound of french fries. I tried really hard not to stare, but it was next to impossible. Within fifteen minutes, the platter was clean. Incredible.
Will later told me that there are sharps containers in many public bathrooms in Mississippi, put there as a convenience for all the diabetics who need to dispose of their insulin needles. Hard to believe, but I saw one myself in a bathroom I used.
Before I left yesterday morning, I picked up a copy of the Sun Herald, the local paper for South Mississippi. The headline story read Bucket Fever: KFC To Hide $20k in Biloxi. As I ate my breakfast, I read the article, which started off,
Biloxi- Kentucky Fried Chicken's "So Good" Secret Santa is delivering some major Christmas presents to Biloxi today, hiding hundreds of miniature red and white buckets that contain more than $20,000 in gift cards and checks worth up to $500 for KFC food.
Luckily for the winners, the prizes were limited to one bucket per person. With give-aways like this, it's no wonder why Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the United States.
I have no desire to judge people, but I hope that those who call Mississippi home would wake up and begin taking better care of themselves. Not everyone I saw had a weight problem. In fact, I saw a lot of people who appeared to be quite healthy. But the statistics above tell a cautionary tale.
When fully one-third of state's population has a critical health issue, things are serious and a terrible price will be paid for inaction. I hope they get the help they need, sooner rather than later.