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January 07, 2005

On Fat ...

According to Men's Fitness magazine, my blessed Chicago remains in fifth place in the fattest cities in America rankings. Fifth this year, fifth last year. The Top 10 Fattest Cities in the United States are:

1. Houston (up from #2)
2. Philadelphia (up from #7; nice going!)
3. Detroit (down from #1)
4. Memphis (up from #20!!!)
5. Chicago (toddling in place)
6. Dallas (down from #3)
7. New Orleans (up from #22)
8. New York (up from #21)
9. Las Vegas (up from #16)
10. San Antonio (down from #4)

What does this tell us, outside of the possibility that a lot of people have been moving from Dallas and San Antonio to Houston?

For one thing, mere food consumption isn’t sufficient for success. Men’s Fitness looks at a number of factors such as fast food restaurants per capita, TV watching, air quality, and the number of parks. I can’t decide if “parks” was pro-fat or pro-fitness. Did they consider the number of needles, crack bottles and used condoms found in these parks? All three mitigate against fat production, and as a loyal Chicagoan I resent the possibility that our comparatively low fat ranking might be because we’ve got fewer crackheads and better zoning laws.

“Fattest” is fattest, period. Generations of Chicagoans have been perfecting the Italian Beef sandwich, mastering the hand-cut French Fry, and loading the appropriate tonnage onto our hot dogs. The fattest cities should be ranked – and I mean this literally – by their number of fat folks.

To this respect, what the hell have the folks in Memphis been eating? The place has (arguably) the best ribs in the galaxy. What did they add to their diet to move up 16 places?

One thing more. Let’s not confuse “fattest” with “least healthy.” All of the Top 10 fittest cities were western towns – as a Midwesterner, I perceive Colorado as “the west” – and Seattle ranked #1. Seattle, the caffeine capital of the world.

I can’t speak for Houston, but if you were to creep up behind, say, 50 Chicagoans and shouted “boo!” you’d hardly induce a single myocardial infarction. Try the same stunt on 50 typical coffee junkies in Seattle and you’d have enough bodies to turn the Green River Killer emerald with envy.

How do I know this? Hey, I don’t question what you do in your spare time.

Posted by Mike Gold at January 7, 2005 04:33 PM

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Where did Boston rank? Up here, calling someone a "fat bastard" is a term of endearment...

Posted by: Londo at January 7, 2005 05:09 PM

I've been reading this mag off and on for years, and they make a big deal out of this list, and yet do very little to tell us how it is put together.

I agree with them on measuring fast food, but how about amount consumed per captia instead of how many places, and so on. I will say that when I visited Houston last year, I went to the branch of my gym there, and it was horrid...no squat rack, no dumbbells over 40 pounds, no EZ curl bars...I had to improvise to get a decent lifting session for anything other than bench pressing.

Posted by: Cory!!Strode at January 8, 2005 12:18 PM

Caffeine is not necessarily a health hazard. Like alcohol, it can be used safely to self-medicate _if_ one is not addicted or otherwise predisposed to a bad reaction.

Posted by: Martha Thomases at January 10, 2005 12:03 PM

Oh, caffeine -- also known as "St. Jospeh's Dexedrine For Children" -- certainly has its place. It appears to be a good preventative for diabetes, and a lot of people couldn't have finished college without it.

But caffeine also leads to the harder stuff. You know, like Starbucks.

Posted by: Mike Gold at January 12, 2005 05:21 PM

Are you calling St Joe's a gateway drug?

Posted by: Londo at February 9, 2005 04:12 PM

You can't be 60738 serious?!?

Posted by: Max Ballstein at August 23, 2006 10:25 PM

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