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Terry McAteer: A weird correlation between political party and obesity

Terry McAteer

I was struck recently by a Fox News report using Center for Disease Control statistics that listed the top 10 states with the most obese percentage of people residing in them.

They are: 10. South Carolina, 9. Alaska, 8. Kentucky, 7. Arkansas, 6. Louisiana, 5. Alabama, 4. Iowa, 3. Oklahoma, 2. Mississippi, and the most obese state in the U.S. is West Virginia.

The redness of these states’ political leaning flashed before my eyes. This brought me to the internet to help prove my thesis. Since everything on the internet must be true!

If this weird correlation is true then California, with its dark blueness in politics, must be at the other end of the spectrum. Yes, the Golden State is number 47. My conclusion: we are fit, trim and liberal.

“We found that higher county-level obesity prevalence rates were associated with higher levels of support for Republican Party Presidential candidates”— UCLA study

In continuing with this correlation theory, Nevada County, which has gone from being a red county to a blue county over the past decade, must then be the slimmest county in northeastern California; yep! In fact, all of northeastern California counties have a much higher obesity rate than does Nevada County. Only ultra blue San Francisco and Marin counties have a lower obesity rate than Nevada County making us the third slimmest county in the state.

If that is true, according to my fine internet-based theory, then Nevada County must be getting much bluer by the day than we all thought.

Obviously, there are plenty of fat Democrats and slim Republicans but the weirdness of this correlation has not just fallen only onto my eyes. A study done by UCLA geography Professor Michael Shin and his colleague, Professor William McCarthy, with the Department of Health, looked into “the association between county political inclination and obesity” and concluded: “We found that higher county-level obesity prevalence rates were associated with higher levels of support for Republican Party Presidential candidates” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Even the internet has reputable sites that help support my theory.

I determined that the major reason for such obesity is the lack of exercise. Obviously, a sedentary lifestyle which includes watching a great deal of television would add to my unofficial correlation. Well, which state do you think watch the most TV? You guessed it — West Virginia. “Red” West Virginians watch over four and half hours per person, per day of TV. According to a study by Verizon, “blue” Californians watch the fewest amount of hours of TV than any other state in the Union, at two and a half hours per capita.

It only makes sense then that Fox News is the most watched network in the land since obese states, which are red, watch more television per capita than do blue state folks — almost twice as much! The problem for Fox, though, is that obese people die at an earlier age than do slim people.

Continuing, I thought I’d see how wine vs. beer consumption proved my theory. Nope, Idahoans drink more wine per capita than California and Maine is the largest beer drinking state with Utah, obviously, being the least (National Institute of Health, 2016).

So much for my internet theories and tongue-in-cheek editorials!

Terry McAteer is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at editboard@theunion.com.


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