Our View: We’re tops, but what does that say about our bottoms?

Published 8:42 am Sunday, August 19, 2012

Louisiana finally ranks in the top two in one category; unfortunately, the news is not flattering, rather an indictment of our appetites.

Recently, the state was ranked second in the country in obesity, trailing only neighboring Mississippi, where biscuits and gravy is a daily staple. The report should not come as a surprise, especially considering we live in a state that boasts of being the culinary mecca of the world.

There is, however, a morsel of pride that can be gleaned from this dubious honor. After all we live to eat, eschewing the bromidic mantra of the rest of the world, most of which eats to live. There is undeniably a sobering element to this development and that is from a health standpoint. The facts are overwhelming that overweight people suffer significantly more health complications than those who keep in shape and follow a more reasonable diet than daily infusions of fried oysters and poboys.

Obesity not only taxes the human body; it can also be an unwelcome draw on the healthcare system, especially if those individuals encumbered with health challenges are uninsured. Sad to say, it is the taxpayers who are often burdened with picking up the tab because of the rapacity of others.

Does this mean the state is suffering because we live among languorous individuals who choose to attend a crawfish boil rather than run a marathon? Certainly not.

So what is the answer?

Government intrusion, such as limiting the size of sugary drinks and other draconian methods currently being imposed in areas like New York City, is flawed.

Rather, the solution lies in education, beginning with our youngest of citizens. Schools must become more aggressive in educating students about the benefits of healthy eating, regular exercise and leading wholesome lifestyles. Bogalusa City Schools are already ahead of that curve, as evidenced by the national awards they have received for their nutrition programs.

Educating students can also have a trickle-up effect for parents and other family members.

Additionally, the state should begin to develop campaigns to encourage Louisiana residents to become more cognizant of what they are eating, pay more attention to their health and take necessary actions to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

That does not mean giving up the shrimp platter with a gumbo appetizer and French bread slathered with butter as a complement, but moderation is advisable.

Understandably, it’s easy to blame our gluttonous woes on our culture of rich food. But it’s also a copout.

Many of us are to blame for Louisiana being one of the fattest states in the country, and it will be up to us to trim down, tighten our belts and take health seriously. The commitment each individual exhibits to a healthy lifestyle may very well determine the quality of our lives, and decrease our individual burden to fellow taxpayers.