Is your gastrointestinal tract in an uproar much of the time? It could be worse. You could live in Los Angeles, or New York, but at least you'd have lots of company.
L.A. and the Big Apple, plus two other California metropolitan areas, sit atop - if that's the way to put it - a rather dubious list. They head a ranking of the nation's most gastrointestinally challenged cities. Following close behind - oops, there we go again - are Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Francisco/Oakland, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix/Tucson, Baltimore/Washington, D.C., and San Diego.
This is the Gastrointestinal Upset Tracker (GUT) list, the 10 metropolitan areas in this country where people spend the most per capita on over-the-counter medication to relieve gastric distress. You know: gas, diarrhea, nasty stuff like that, often caused by stress and overeating.
The GUT list was issued by a firm, which will remain nameless, that makes stomach remedies to promote a new product described as a “chewable dietary supplement of `friendly' bacteria that promote digestive health.” Sounds yummy, doesn't it?
Along with shameless promotion, the company provided a little analysis of the list, pointing out the obvious curiosity that three California cities made the top 10. “When it comes to gastrointestinal distress,” it noted, “a city's sunshine quotient, laid-back manner, and compulsion for the latest alternative therapies may not matter.”
Well, we can understand L.A. and San Francisco rating high on the gut-o-meter. Think of all the worry about earthquakes. Isn't the Big One due just about now? But San Diego? Wait, didn't their electric bills just triple?
Likewise, stomachs of the folks in Houston, Dallas, and Ft. Worth must be churning as their fellow Texan, George W. Bush, battles for the White House. And in Washington, Al Gore could be excused if he bought out the entire drugstore.
As for New York, let's just say that the Big Apple sometimes gets a little too ripe. In Chicago, did someone order anchovies on the pizza? Up in Minnesota, the prospect of being snowed in all winter must be daunting. In Arizona, there are lots of old folks.
Notice also - point of public pride, with drum roll, please - that Toledo did not make the GUT list. That must mean that we've managed to eat right, get plenty of exercise, and reduce our daily diet of stress. Let's all go out to celebrate. How about a Hungarian hot dog, with onions?