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The Chicago Tribune reports that “as the country wages a war on obesity, health officials have sought to encourage Americans to exercise more and eat healthier, giving up foods high in cholesterol and fat. But despite the region's ‘Stroke Belt’ label - because of the above-average number of strokes - health officials have had difficulty persuading Southerners to drastically change their artery-clogging diet.

“Other regions of the country, including the Midwest with its cheese, brats and pizza, also have challenges. But in the South, a meal of fried chicken smothered in gravy, collard greens and buttered cornbread is as much a part of the culture as front-porch rockers and a Southern drawl.”

But while, according to the paper, “hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on programs in churches, schools and community centers to educate the public about health risks and teach people how to cook healthy meals without losing the flavor,” there remains considerable resistance to the kinds of wholesale changes that might make a different in the long-term health of the region’s citizens. For many people, Southern food goes beyond regional and cultural pride – it is a cuisine that is part of the people’s DNA, and therefore almost impossible for many people to abandon.
KC's View:
This is, of course, one of the reasons that you have to start with kids – if you can change behavior and beliefs when they are young, maybe it is less likely that they’ll grow up craving fried pork chops and gravy. And this is something that has to take place first at the home and then in the schools…for without this one-two punch, there is no hope at all.

We have to be honest, though. We don’t really understand why people wouldn’t change their diets, especially if they knew they had a genetic or regional predisposition to a certain malady. When we recently became aware of a number of people in our family who have had strokes, we immediately started to be a lot more sensible about the things we eat, plus started taking a baby aspirin every day, as directed by the doctor.

These kinds of moves are just common sense. And we suppose that if adults don’t want to exhibit common sense about their lives, there isn’t much we can do about that.