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Mississippi leads the way in obesity

By By Robert St. John / food columnist
Aug. 6, 2003
Robert St. John is the executive chef/owner of the Purple Parrot Caf and Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg and Meridian. If you have any
questions or comments, he can be reached at, or at (601) 264-0672.
The Centers for Disease Control says Mississippi leads the nation in obesity.
A recent CDC report states 26.5 percent of Mississippi's adult population is obese. It's about time we led the nation in one statistical category.
Dr. William Dietz, an official with the CDC, says Mississippi is "going to be drowning in the costs associated with obesity." Dietz thinks we'll lose a lot of money due to increased healthcare costs that relate to our statewide portliness.
This is bad news. Reports have the Mississippi budget as much as $400 million in the red. Any further loss from our collective corpulence would increase the state deficit even more.
Obesity costs the United States $93 billion a year. Even if we divide that amount evenly among the 50 states, Mississippi's share is $1.8 billion!
I've got a plan
It's a well-thought-out plan and I'm giving it away, free of charge, to any gubernatorial candidate who is savvy enough to take advantage of it. I predict this plan will be the difference in the upcoming election.
Just Say No to carbs.
Dr. Atkins' diet is all the rage. It is widely known to burn fat and Mississippians are supposedly fatter than citizens of every other state. I propose one of our gubernatorial candidates step up to the plate and offer, for the sake of saving the state budget, the Mississippi Mass Atkins Diet Bill.
Stroke of brilliance
The MMADB is a stroke of brilliance, even if I do say so myself. If introduced on the first day of the upcoming legislative session, it will help rescue our state economy and create more than 2 million sets of six-pack abs in the process.
Here's how it works: Eggs, chicken and fish are a major part of the Atkins diet. It just so happens that eggs, chicken and catfish are a major component of the Mississippi economy.
The MMADB would require all Mississippians to eat nothing but grilled catfish, fried eggs and chicken wings three meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
This would solve our obesity problem, save us millions of dollars and eliminate the state deficit at the same time. In addition to being a kinder, gentler nation, we will be a skinnier and wealthier state.
Read my lips
Read my lips, no new biscuits.
The MMADB also would help solve our education woes. If kids are only eating catfish, eggs and chicken wings in school cafeterias, they will spend more time in classrooms and less time in cafeterias. Test scores will increase, waistlines will decrease and school budgets will shrink.
Tippecanoe and catfish too.
Mississippi governors might have a hard time seeing through the need for a collective state diet. The Governor's Mansion employs a full-time chef.
The governor has three offices: one in the Sillers building, one in the state Capitol and another in the Governor's Mansion. The office in the Governor's Mansion is steps away from the kitchen and therefore only a caramel cake away from the full-time chef ready to prepare a six-course feast at your beckon call.
If I were governor, I would always work in the governor's mansion, I would eat breakfast in bed every day and I would personally lead the state statistics in obesity.
Best meals
Some of the best meals I have eaten were in the Governor's Mansion. Where else can you be served-with-a-smile by a convicted murderer? On one overnight stay I ate so much that, when I retired to the Bilbo room, I vomited all over the place (In retrospect, throwing up in the Bilbo room might be poetic justice).
It's easy for the CDC to sit in their cushy offices in Atlanta and pick on Mississippians. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw ham bones. I've spent a lot of time in Georgia. There are a bunch of pudgy folks over there, too. I think the CDC needs to take a look into their own backyard (where they are likely to find a thick-necked, fat man barbecuing a big chunk of pork).
If the MMADB is enacted, Mississippi won't be the fattest state, schoolchildren will be smarter, waistlines will be smaller, catfish and poultry farmers will be in high cotton, the state budget will be in the black and no one will be throwing up in the Bilbo room.
My political consulting career has begun. Flabby Georgians, here we come.