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The most-fattening foods, and fattest people, in the land

According to a recent assessment by "Health", chances are your state's most famous food has become popular for reasons other than its nutritional value.

Take, for instance, Maryland's Smith Island cake, the state's official dessert. Here's what "Health" has to say about that delicacy:

In 2008, the Old Line State adopted the Smith Island Cake as its official state dessert. The cake gets its name from a remote island in the Chesapeake Bay, home to fewer than 100 year-round residents, and yet the decadent treat became so popular the governor signed the cake into law.
  • Ingredients: At least 10 layers of cake, which can be made from scratch or from a packaged mix, with layers of chocolate icing in between
  • Fat content: Most recipes have around 26 grams of fat per serving, enough for an entire day.

Virginia fares a bit better with its legendary Smithfield ham:

The Smithfield ham is defined -- by law -- as ham that is processed and cured in a certain way and only in Smithfield. While it's not the worst food for you in the entire country, ham isn't one of your healthiest options when choosing a meat.
  • Ingredients: Ham, salt, often with sugary glaze
  • Fat content: A serving of ham generally has around 7 to 9 grams of fat.

By contrast, some states are known, according to the highly subjective list (Maryland's represented by a cake, not a crab dish, for instance, while Connecticut's represented by a hot dog, for Pete's sake, and not for its exquisite and ground-breaking Pepe's pizzas).

Let's compare the "Health" list to the statistics in "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future," a new report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Among other things, that report, issued Tuesday, ranks states according to obesity rates.

The most-obese state, Mississippi, has as its favorite food a native mud pie. Alabama and Tennessee, tied for second place, are represented on the Health list by bacon-wrapped meatloaf and Ruby Tuesday's Triple Prime Bacon Cheddar Burger, respectively. (Ruby Tuesday's started out in that state.) On the other hand, least-obese Colorado is the land of the seven-pound breakfast burrito (!), while second-least-obese Connecticut has that hot dog. (D.C. was the third-least-obese jurisdiction, but it's not included in the "Health" roundup.)

To their credit, the folks at "Health" don't recommend steering clear of these local favorites altogether but rather to sample them in moderation. That's good, because summer vacation is prime time to indulge in destination-specific dining. I, for one, couldn't go a summer without a bite of Thrasher's french fries on the Ocean City boardwalk, calories be damned!

What local favorite foods will you be enjoying this summer? Do you pay attention to their nutrition profiles or just eat with abandon?

Speaking of vacation and eating, I'll be in Italy for the next 10 days. Look for guest blogs from Pam Peeke, Brian Wansink and Post intern Leslie Tamura in my absence. And when I get back, I'll let you know whether I managed to maintain my weight while away.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  July 1, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
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My husband and I have been paying close attention this past month to what we are eating. We have increased the amount of fruit, nuts and vegetables we eat and are getting off the packaged processed food. There seems to be corn syrup in everything! One of our favorite foods: roasted vegetables marinated in olive oil and a little tamari sauce. I believe part of the reason for the rise of obesity in this country is due to eating fast food and packaged and processed food! Some schools even feed children pizza for breakfast!

Posted by: BreakthroughLifeCoaching | July 1, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

I'll diet when I'm dead.

Posted by: distance88 | July 1, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Never mentioned is the processed pablum, being feed to us by politicians, that keeps us fat, dumb, and happy.

Posted by: whocares666 | July 1, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Italy? Wow. If left to their own devices, many Italians would eat pasta three times a day. With bread. Take special precautions to avoid the carbs. In a restaurant, skip the 'primeri' and order the 'secundi.' If you don't need a pasta course, avoid it. Eat dessert every other day. I visited my relatives last year on a 5-day trip and gained 10 lbs! And this was after walking briskly several miles every day!

Posted by: mdreader01 | July 1, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

First, 26g of fat is 1/3 to 1/2 of the RDA, not the whole thing.

Second, low-carb diets don't work, are bad for your health, and in some cases are actually dangerous. You crave complex carbs in part because they are vital to normal brain function. You want to lose weight? Eat less, and exercise. Don't starve your brain.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | July 1, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

AMEN, distance88. Dieting blows. Gimme my cake! :)

Posted by: sigmagrrl | July 1, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe our state food is a hot dog. I need to move back to VA as ham is delicious and not made from shredded tires and bungholes like a hotdog.


Also Italians are not fat on average compared to Americans. They eat loads more seafood than we do.

Posted by: theobserver4 | July 1, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

DC the 3rd least obese jurisdiction??!!!
Makes me question the entire study -- they must not have walked the streets here!!!

Posted by: seaduck2001 | July 1, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"DC the 3rd least obese jurisdiction??!!!
Makes me question the entire study -- they must not have walked the streets here!!!"

LOL, that was my reaction, too. Was the research only conducted at boutiques in Georgetown? Either that -- or DC is first in the nation in lying about our weight.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 1, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

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