MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Fried chicken, mac 'n' cheese, and turnip greens. Southern cooking may taste great, but it's part of a growing problem.
A recent study from Gallup and health care company Healthways graded 185 metropolitan areas on well-being.
Montgomery's metropolitan area is sitting fat and happy at the bottom of the list--tied with Stockton, California with a 34.6% obesity rate.
That's more than one third of the population. Dieticians aren't phased by the news.
"People smoke too many cigarettes. People eat too much fried food. Over-consume salt," explained Bertie Johnston.
With those diet choices come the problems.
"Obesity. Heart disease. Diabetes. These are all lifestyle diseases, so it's really about making permanent lifestyle changes," Johnston said.
One of those changes--exercise--is difficult to take on, but more and more people are jumping on a treadmill everyday.
"This time of year is good, too, because swimsuits and shorts and, you know, [they're] going to be in the gym. Just trying to tighten up," explained Chris Bray, manager of Anytime Fitness in Montgomery.
Some residents are making the effort. They say it's all about education.
"They may not be made aware of--particularly, calories--and everything that they eat," said Mark Dempsey of Montgomery.
So, with the proper knowledge--and a heavy emphasis on prioritizing your life--experts say Montgomery can turn the scales around.
"It's about making those small, permanent steps instead of big changes that you can't stick with," Johnston said.
The study also looked at economic factors, ranking the Montgomery metro area near the bottom when it came to the amount of people with health insurance, a safe place to exercise, and enough money to buy food.
The study included Autauga, Elmore, and Lowndes counties in its findings.
For more information on the Gallup/Healthways study, click here.