Bill Bouldin

Bill Bouldin

Well, hello there. Good of you to join me. Waddle on over here and have a seat – take a load off, so to speak.

While you’re catching your breath, let me call your attention to a little item put out by Gallup, that famous group of busybodies who constantly poke their noses where they don’t belong. “Of the 190 metropolitan areas that Gallup surveyed nationally, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, residents were the most likely to be obese, at 38.8 percent.”

The article goes on to explain that the national obesity average for U.S. cities is about 26 percent, and then Gallup ranks the cities from most to least obese.

In general, Texas does not fare well on this list, and South Texas tends to mirror the McAllen area.

In a word, we’re fat.

Starting with Beaumont at 33.8 percent, Corpus Christi comes in at 30.2 percent and San Antonio tips the scales (literally) at 29.1 percent. Gallup didn’t run the numbers on the smaller cities, but you can extrapolate the big city numbers to get a sense of what to expect in Del Rio, Eagle Pass or Laredo. It ain’t pretty. Or at least that’s what the Gallup people want us to believe.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I DO have a dog in this fight. After spending most of my adult life in South Texas, I confess to surrendering to the siren song of the tortillas de harina, the rhapsody of pastel tres leches, and the comfort of refried beans with pico de gallo.

I know only too well the blissful combination of barbacoa and Big Red. And yes, the chalupa is my friend.

As a consequence, I have a lot in common with the subjects of the Gallup survey. Without getting into actual numbers here, let’s just say it’s been a while since I saw my belt buckle. I could drop a few kilos, and be better off for it.

Naturally, I’m a little offended when a nationally known survey outfit like Gallup labels my home region as over-served in the food department. I get a little defensive, and start to look closely at the details of the survey.

Come to find out, these Gallup jaspers are playing fast and loose with the numbers. You would think they would have spent a lot of time out in the field weighing, probing, poking and measuring their subjects. You would be wrong. Gallup used Americans’ SELF-REPORTED height and weight to calculate body mass index scores.

Can you see what’s really going on here? Gallup is not reporting on relative obesity in the population. Gallup is actually describing Texans’ relative dishonesty.

What tipped me off was the obesity figures for Austin. Are you ready for this? According to Gallup, only 21.3 percent of Austin residents are obese, the lowest percentage in the state.

Friends, I have been to Austin. I have spent enough time on South Congress to know one thing. If Austinites self-reported their weight accurately, they would need to average eight feet tall to get to the body mass index that supports the 21.3 obesity percentage.

Without putting too fine a point on it, the Austin folks were flat out lyin’ when it came to self-reporting their height and weight.

And I think I know why. The Gallup survey was conducted while the Texas Legislature was in session.

When you consider the river of lies, half-truths, prevarications, obfuscations, exaggerations and deliberate falsehoods flowing from that august body, it is no wonder a splash of Austin mendacity slopped over into the self-reporting on the Gallup survey. How could it not?

So, as we South Texans strain the tensile strength of our zippers and wreak havoc on the springs in our scales, we at least can take pardonable pride in our honesty.

We’re not over-weight. We’re just under-tall.

INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS WEEK: Sept. 5 - Be Late For Something Day (Hey, no prob!); 6th - Read A Book Day. Enjoy.

Bill Bouldin, a Virginian by birth and a Son of Texas by nature, is a former Air Force pilot and veteran journalist who has spent many tale-weaving years on the Texas-Mexico border.

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