Yes culture can play a big role in obesity, no doubt about it. Individual states may have different cultural norms based on their environment, their politics, the societal values, social structures and genetic make ups. Norms play a big part in what is acceptable behavior and what is not. As obesity is mostly a preventable condition it is effected by societal norms.
This is an excellent question. I believe it is.
I live in North Carolina, a state well known for Southern hospitality, fried chicken, hushpuppies and sweet tea. I am a somewhat detached observer because I am German by birth and did come to the USA in 1989 and to North Carolina in 1994.
When I went to a function by an organization like ‘Meals on Wheels’, the food served there was – in my opinion – extremely unhealthy, yet it represented what is believed to be typical Southern cooking. And I saw the same over at many other events because it is what people think is expected. At the State Fair, the annual competition is who can deep-fry the most astounding things, giving birth to such delicacies as fried twinkies, fried snickers bars, fried cheese and a fried hot dog. And surprising as that may seem: there are actually people who will eat that! And it is often explained that it is part of their culture. However, in order to mollify a guilty conscience, this is then washed down with a diet soda.
The statistics show a grim picture for our state and others. Despite all efforts, obesity rates continue to climb, and I cannot see it changing any time soon. And if tofu ever made it to the state fair, it certainly would be the BBQ deep-fried version.
I am prividing a link to the CDC article on obesity trends here: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html
Henry, the American Fitness Index might lead you to your answer.
The “ACSM developed the program in 2007 to provide an evidence- and science-based measurement of the state of health and fitness at the community level throughout the U.S. Communities, organizations and individuals will be able to assess factors that contribute to health and fitness and measure the progress.
Improve the health, fitness and quality of life of Americans by promoting physical activity, using three key components:
* Data Report: Collect, analyze and report on data related to healthy lifestyles and physical activity. Release the ACSM American Fitness Index Report to give a scientific, accurate snapshot of the health status at a metropolitan level.
* Resources: Serve as a resource for communities. Promote and integrate scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science.
* Health Promotion Partners: Assist communities interested in connecting and partnering with organizations and existing programs to collaborate on physical activity/healthy lifestyle initiatives. Connect with local, state, and national partners and resources to improve the nation in becoming a more physically active society.”
Here is the link: