I found myself chuckling last week while reading the Harvard School of Public Health’s conclusion of its study that stroke rates in “the stroke belt’ were “a mystery”, according to M. Maria Glymour the lead author. What so perplexed the researchers was that people residing in the southern states that comprise the stroke belt had a 34% higher incidence of stroke, and, even when they relocated outside the region, these individuals still had a higher incidence of stroke than residents in their new state. It seems the ivy leaguers need to venture south of the Mason Dixon line, where visions of sugar plums are replaced with deep fried twinkies, hominy grits, unlimited soda refills, Bar-B-Q, and never-ending buffet choices so laden with fat they could harden and double as land fill.
My children first experienced the gluttony that is Shoney’s on a trip to visit relatives in Virginia. My youngest, then a fifth grader, noted that the family in the booth next to us was on their 4th soda refill, and at the tender age of 10, was fully aware of the consequences of numerous cavities and huge girth. So, mystery solved, or more to the point, never existed, at least not for a fifth grader or any one else with common sense: People with poor dietary habits will continue poor dietary habits regardless of their change in zipcodes, unless they change their choices and behavior.