I found the word, “Fat Belt” in the headline of the article in Time magazine (October 11 issues), titled “Salad restaurant chains sprouting up even in the ‘Fat Belt.’” The article reads:

“Salad restaurants are thriving on the East Coast, but a novelty in the Midwest — what investors call the fat belt,” John. A. Bornoty, a 42-year-old entrepreneur, tells the Detroit News. “Our focus groups told us people are craving a fresh, healthy menu at affordable prices.”

Urban dictionary (though I know it is unpopular among EL&U users for the lack of credibility) explains “fat belt” as the word describing the status;

“It is when some girl is wearing pants (i.e. jeans skirt) and thereis a roll of fat hanging over the edge. This gives the illusion that the fat is actually a belt...... something very gross.” However, this definition appears to be irrelevant to “Fat belt” appearing in the above article and used as the metonymy of the Midwest.

Does ‘fat belt’ mean the geographic belt of areas where the ratio of obese people is significantly high?

Is it a relatively new word? Doesn’t the word carry a smack of derogatory implication? Can I use it lightly just like the Bible Belt, the Corn Belt, and Rust Belt in front of the Midwesterners?

  • 2
    Corn Belt seems much more innocuous than Fat Belt. One can be tossed about with abandon, the other should be used with caution.
    – J.R.
    Oct 12 '12 at 8:14

Most humor is derogatory. Calling the Midwest the Fat Belt is derogatory. But the most popular restaurants in the Midwest -- last time I was in South Dakota (Okay, that's the Great Plains and not strictly the Midwest) -- are all-you-can-eat meat, potatoes, and gravy places: lard-it-on food troughs, not nosheries of nouvelle nutrition. The pictures from my stepmother's last clan reunion in southern Ohio (the real Midwest) showed a lot elephantine Americans in every generation. There's a lot of truth in the name Fat Belt. But pachydermal portlies (created a noun out of an adjective here) are everywhere in the USA.

The Corn Belt (Iowa and Kansas) is a different kind of name. They grow corn there. The obese and morbidly obese are ubiquitously autochthonous. People who live in the Bible Belt are undoubtedly proud of the appellation. Let's not get into that honey bucket.

Nobody likes to be called fat, not even in that indirect way, but as long as you preface your use of the term Fat Belt with an explanation that it came from a magazine article, you might be forgiven. Notice that John A. Bornoty said "what investors call the fat belt", because he didn't want to admit to actually using the term approvingly.

In general, though, I'd stay away from the term. Chuckle at it in the privacy of your bedroom just before your lights go out if it turns you on. Don't lower yourself by imitating the American media's linguistic standards, which have been at sewer depth for decades.


It means what you think it means.

It is probably fairly recent: Google Ngrams gives as good as no results.

It is certainly derogatory, because people don't like being called fat. So it would not be very polite to use this word in a conversation with someone who lived in the Fat Belt or had lived there, or who was fat.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.