It's not just about the groceries

It's interesting that the percent-in-welfare state rankings aren't all that different. Vermont is no. 5 and Tennessee is no. 4 in the nation, both at a fraction over 2 percent for reasons subject to the usual speculations.

But it's the obesity rates that tell the real tale/ Vermont is at 23 percent, Tennessee is at 32 percent. The most obese state is Mississippi while the leanest is Colorado. And the diabetes stats report the expected: Vermont is under 7 percent, Tennessee is over 11 percent.

Out of sheer cowardice, I won't attempt to correlate with minority percentages in this column. But as the Safeway Plan recognizes-and both TennCare and ShumyCare don't-rewarding your customer base to lose weight can save a lot of money.

Even so, the above statistics suggest that Vermont should be spending less per capita on health care than Tennessee. Yet, it isn't. More on this topic in the coming weeks.

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