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Country has bulk, beer and babes

July 27, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

All rightie, it's my favorite time of year. Well, perhaps not more favorite than Christmas, fall leaf season, Easter, tax-refund time, the Super Bowl, the first day of school and the time when the dogwood and redbud are in bloom at the same time. But other than that, it is my favorite time of year.

Yes, it's that time of year again when the national obesity statistics come out and, like at the Oscars, I always get real tingly when they slit open the envelope.

And the Tri-State area got some great news when West Virginia won the crown as the most obese state in the nation.

According to The Washington Post, "For most states, the obesity rate is over 20 percent. For 2002, the latest available period, the District of Columbia had an obesity rate of 21 percent; Virginia rated a portly 24 percent; and Maryland ranked among the more svelte states, with 19 percent of its residents obese. The stoutest state in the union, according to the study, was West Virginia, with an obesity rate of 28 percent."

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Stoutest. I like that. It's better than "pudgy," portly" or "sloppy fat." Or obese. Personally, I think I would prefer to be called "a gentleman of ample carriage."

But good for West Virginia. They don't call it the Mountain State for nothing. Of course, anytime you come out with a set of facts and figures, people will always try to analyze them.

For example, upon learning of West Virginia's new title, a friend asked, "Does this mean that roadkill is fattening?" (As you are preparing my noose, please keep in mind that this was not my joke. I realize this is a lame excuse along the lines of "The check is in the mail" or "Sandy Berger stole my homework," but it is the truth.)

By contrast, people will look at the "thinnest" state - Colorado - and ask its secret. Turns out - and this is pretty shocking - its residents exercise a lot.

From the Post: "In some places, people gather around the water cooler and talk about the play they saw the night before, or a new TV show," notes Ned Colange, the state's chief medical officer. "In Colorado, the talk is more likely to be somebody's new personal best for the 5K (run), or the snow conditions at the ski areas."

Wait a minute, hold dafone. Why has no one informed us before now that exercise leads to weight loss? No way it can be that simple. Must be something more, such as the fact that Colorado is home to a lot of honey-blond snow bunnies and Coors beer.

Or maybe not. It has come to my attention that this formula has not worked in the former Czechoslovakia.

I always kind of assumed that America was the only country obsessed with obesity, but this is not the case. Thanks to Al Gore and the Internet, we have this little item brought to us from a Czech radio news report:

"The Czech Republic has always enjoyed a good reputation thanks to its beautiful women and its delicious brew. But if Czechs continue to live the comfortable lifestyle they adopted after the fall of the totalitarian regime, they may soon make headlines for a different reason - representing the fattest nation in Europe."

Obviously, my first observation would be this: If you have most excellent babes and beer, who cares? Like obesity is going to be a burning issue with anybody if every other woman you see on the street is Catherine Zeta Jones with a pitcher. One sentence I've never once heard a guy utter is: "I wouldn't mind overeating, it's just that I don't want all the beautiful women and cold beer that go along with it."

Not even in West Virginia.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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