When times are good and fortune smiles, Americans sometimes say they're in Fat City. It's a state of mind more than a place. Fat City, man.
But you can actually go to the nation's Fat State, the Deep South state of Mississippi. Nobody yet calls it that, but the name fits. Just ask three of its own legislators.
In the latest ranking of obesity rates based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi finished first, or worst. Thirty-one percent of Mississippians are obese, defined as 14 or more kilos above a healthy weight.
By comparison, the leanest state is mountainous Colorado. Just 18 percent of skiing and hiking-crazed Coloradans are officially plump.
Mississippi is the land of great jazz, fragrant magnolia blossoms, rolling cotton fields . . . and also succulent fried chicken, deep-fried catfish, and — from the looks of its strip malls — one of the country's highest concentrations of fast-food restaurants.
So John Reed and two other Mississippi representatives introduced a bill that would have required the state's restaurants to refuse service to customers who are obese. This produced howls of protest. Unenforceable, some said. Blaming the victim, roared others.
Reed retreated, saying he knew the bill had no chance of passing. He was, he said, trying to shed a little light on the number-one problem in Mississippi. That got him in more trouble, since the state ranks at or near the bottom in income, spending on education, and other social measures.
All this was enough to make a grown man seek some comfort food, like a warm, gooey slice of Mississippi pecan pie.