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Mississippians attribute “most obese” ranking to state culture

Fried Food_Reuters.jpg

 (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Mississippi was the most obese state in the U.S. in 2013, according to a new Gallup-Healthways poll —and locals are attributing the title to the state’s cultural attitudes.

According to the poll, Mississippi  had an obesity rate of 35.4 percent in 2013 and has ranked among the top 10 obese states in the nation since 2008. Comparatively, Montana, the least obese state, had an obesity rate of 19.6 percent.

Kim Waldrup, a 54-year-old from Yazoo City, Miss., said poor eating habits are engrained in the state’s culture.

“We’re used to fried food so much it’s just an old school thing,” Waldrup told Fox News junior reporter Kyle Rothenberg. “But they need to start in the schools to fix it.”

The state’s laid-back lifestyle may also be to blame, according to Mississippi State University student Will Prater.

“Obesity has been a problem for Mississippi. Complacency is not only characteristic of the sedentary lifestyles leading to high obesity rates, it is also characteristic of a cultural attitude towards the issue itself,” Prater, 22, told FoxNews.com.

Retired air traffic controller Paul Donaldson, of Starkville, Miss., said the state’s obesity problem is obvious.

“If you just walk around Mississippi you’ll see… one out of three people are obese,” Donaldson, 58, told FoxNews.com.

He believes his fellow Mississippians need to start paying more attention to improving their health and eating healthy.

“We’re like a machine.  You put in bad gas, you’ll run bad,” Donaldson said. “You put in good gas, you’ll run good.”

LiveScience contributed to this report.