I might add a few other reasons: the car-centered culture and the sprawl, which both make walkable communities virtually impossible in this part of the country. I don't think I need to explain why walking, regularly, to and from work and within your community, might be healthier than relying on a air-conditioned vehicle to get around.
People from Mississippi are fat. With an adult obesity rate of 33%, Mississippi has gobbled its way to the "chubbiest state" crown for the fifth year in a row, according to a new joint report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee aren't far behind, with obesity rates over 30%. In fact, eight of the 10 fattest states are in the South. The region famous for its biscuits, barbecue and pecan pies has been struggling with its weight for years — but then again, so has the rest of the country. Wisconsin loves cheese, New Yorkers scarf pizza, and New Englanders have been known to enjoy a crab cake or two. So why is the South so portly?
... Southerners have little access to healthy food and limited means with which to purchase it. It's hard for them to exercise outdoors, and even when they do have the opportunity, it's so hot, they don't want to.
Because of that, over the past year or so, I've grown disenchanted with the idea of settling and raising a family in the South. This is a relatively recent development. Maybe that's because I spend two hours a day commuting to and from work. Maybe I like the idea of being able to find something to eat after 9 p.m. besides Chili's. Or maybe I like the idea of being able to walk outside without breaking out into a full-bodied sweat.
Don't get me wrong: I love the South, I love living near the best beaches in the country, I love college football, I love shrimp and grits, and I've learned to live in an uneasy peace with people who take pride in brandishing the Confederate flag.
But I've seen the toll this has taken on my waistline. I'm only 31, and I can imagine that things aren't going to get easier my lifestyle doesn't change drastically. I don't want to have to buy bigger pants or start worrying about high-blood pressure or diabetes in my 30s.
I think I want to move. Really. I fell in love with the D.C. area recently. Philly has always had an appeal to me that I can't quite explain. I love Chicago but those winters seem too brutal. The Bay Area might be out of my price range. I've heard really good things about Seattle. And I've got this inexplicable fascination with Toronto though, once again, winter would be a problem.
Should I stay or should I go?