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Residents in Texas cities are among most obese

Nov. 4, 1999

Nationwide study finds San Antonio to be 3rd-most overweight city

By BECKY OBERG

Staff Writer

Texas-size meals are giving many people Texas-size stomachs.

According to a report from USA Today, San Antonio is the third-most obese city in the nation. Nearly 33 percent of residents are obese, or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30.

Houston weighed in at 10th and Dallas/Fort Worth at 15th.

'It does not come as a surprise to me,' said Emily Harrison, a Waco senior and nutrition scientist at the Health Education and Wellness Office. She said the South and Southwest 'weigh in more with obesity.'

Harrison and Stephanie Stouse, an Amarillo senior, work in a new program with the Health Education and Wellness Office that specializes in nutrition assessment and guidance.

The study, conducted in the nation's 33 largest metropolitan areas, found Dallas and Fort Worth 'residents eat out frequently, especially Tex-Mex and steak, and eat large portions.'

Harrison said cultural events that revolve around food might contribute as well.

'You might think of Southern hospitality,' she said.

The ability to buy a lot of food for a low price may also be a factor, Harrison said.

'We hear that everything's bigger and better in Texas,' she said. 'Maybe having the giant portions in front of us is contributing to obesity . . . It's all about eating everything in moderation.'

Harrison said the Health Education and Wellness Office staff is working to evaluate the nutritional value of food in the dining halls.

Obesity is the second-leading cause of death, and half of the over-20 residents of the South are overweight or obese.

The first steps to losing weight, according to Harrison, are eating less, becoming more active and exercising.

'Obesity is ... a very involved process,' Harrison said. 'It can be complex getting to the root issues.'