South Carolina's beauty queen symbol of triumph over obesity

SOUTH CAROLINA -- In a state that ranks as one of the most obese in the country, the new Miss South Carolina offers the classic example of how we got into this mess and how we can get out.

Since 22-year-old Bree Boyce won her crown Saturday night, the buzz around her weight-loss story has attracted attention from national and international publications. A national obesity report released Thursday indicates how much her neighbors in South Carolina need to listen to her story. The state has the eighth-highest rate of obesity, and like the rest of the country the problem is getting worse here each year.

Boyce said she was heavy as a child, then really got into trouble when she was old enough to drive on her own. "I'd drive around to fast food restaurants and order anything and everything on the menu," she said.

It's so easy, and the food tastes so good. But so much of what's on fast-food menus is bad for you, especially when super-sized. Before she wised up, Boyce weighed 230 pounds.

At that point, the Florence resident was a typical South Carolinian. Two-thirds of the state's population (66.4 percent) is overweight and 30.9 percent is obese, according to a report released Thursday by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Both of those statistics have been on the rise for the past 15 years, not only in South Carolina but nationwide. In fact, despite the state's increases (16.6 percent to 30.9 percent obese, and 51.4 percent to 66.4 percent overweight), South Carolina's national ranking is the same as in 1995.

That's why people want to hear Boyce's story. She seems to have found the secret to losing weight. She could write a diet book - The Beauty Queen Diet - and sell a million copies.

Except she has no easy-to-follow diet to push. Her weight-loss success was all about wanting to lose weight, working at it and truly changing habits.

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