If you’ve been out and about lately, you might be surprised to hear that Tennessee is only the 16th most obese state in the nation. If just asked out of the blue, you might’ve said, “I’d guess we’re third. Surely, Alabama and Mississippi are fatter than us.”

Now, we made the top 20, number 16, so we’re still holding up our end of the bargain. A website called ConsumerProtect.com did a study using data from the Centers for Disease Control and found, across the country, 30.1% of adults are considered officially obese. That’s double the rate of 15% from 1990 when apparently we were all skinny and happy.

Going by the study, which is one of many (and I will write about them all!), West Virginia has the most obese residents at 38.1% and Colorado is last with 22.6%. West Virginia is a southern state, so they’re expected to be fat, but Colorado is always last on these lists and nobody ever says why. I can only assume that since the state is in the mountains, everything is uphill and they just naturally burn the fat off.

Since this study never uses the word “fat,” only obesity, I think they might be leaving out the people who could lose 20-30 pounds and look skinny. They did use the body mass index scale, which takes both weight and height into account. But it does make me think of somebody looking at two overweight people and saying, “He’s fat. But you, my friend, are FAT.”

With the exception of Iowa and Alaska(!), all top 10 of the most obese states are southern. I’m surprised Alaska is number 10. I’d think just shivering from the cold would burn all the fat off, but I guess not.

I was shocked Georgia was all the way down at 24. Really, they barely made the top 25? Florida was the only other southern state outside the top 20, coming in at 35. That’s slightly misleading. Between Tennessee and Florida, the number only goes down from 32.8 to 28.4. Four percent is like losing four pounds. Sounds nice at first, then you realize you’re still fat.

The study estimated it costs the country between $147 billion and $210 billion a year in various areas. Most of it is healthcare, though. Getting fat is cheap as most fate laden foods are relatively inexpensive. Taking care of yourself while fat is not cheap at all.

Why are Americans so fat? Well, as these studies always say, a horrible diet and an inactive lifestyle will send you to the 2XXL clothes section every time.

When it comes to not getting any exercise, Kentucky takes top honors with 34.4% of its residents only moving when going from a seat at home or work to a car seat. Washington barely edged out Colorado with only 19.2% of their inhabitants not getting any exercise.

Tennessee was 11th with 30.6% of us declaring exercise is stupid and you’re going to die one day anyway, so what’s the point?

As with obesity, southern states dominate, taking 9 of the top 10 spots. I won’t claim to be an exercise maven, but people can get up and walk around, mow a yard, chase a dog or something. I have Fitbit and all it asks is that I walk at least 250 steps an hour. Sure, I disappoint it most of the time, but I get what it’s saying.

As for eating, well, Mississippi ranked first in bad eating with 46.3% of them not even eating a piece of fruit per day. Tennessee was 12th with 38.9% of us zooming right by the produce section and heading for the potato chip aisle.

Colorado came down to Earth a little here, ranking 39th with 33% not eating any fruit during the day. Vermont was best at eating better, but they still had 29.7% of people taking not taking the complimentary salad that came with their deep fried chicken tenders.

What does all this mean? Will it help change people’s habits? The study does say that West Virginia, and the south as a whole, may be the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country. If they don’t do something, soon they’ll be as fat as we are around here.

And of course it won’t change anything! We’ll just get more stubborn about it and declare there’s more of us to love. As people scoot further and further away.

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