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Why Americans Are Fat

Updated on November 28, 2010

There are fat, chunky or chubby people everywhere, in every country. A small percentage of those people are overweight due to a physiological condition -- the rest have gotten fat all on their own. As I sit here writing this, I'm fully aware that some people will think this is mean spirited. It isn't; but if you're that blinkered that you need to think such a thing; I'm ok with that. For the rest of you, know this: I've been overweight. I've never been obese, but I've been chubby enough to get called fat, and I know how that feels. 

The U.S. Obesity Epidemic

More than one third of U.S. adults—more than 72 million people—and 16% of U.S. children are obese. Since 1980, obesity rates for adults have doubled and rates for children have tripled. Obesity rates among all groups in society—irrespective of age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, or geographic region—have increased markedly.

Centers for Disease Control, 2009

The UK Obesity Epidemic

In 2006, 38% of adults in England were overweight and 24% were classified as obese. 67% of men and 56% of women were either overweight or obese in 2006. 29.7% of children aged 2 to 15 were classed as overweight or obese in 2006. Figures for boys and girls among this age group were 30.6% and 28.7% respectively. 17.3% of boys and 14.7% of girls were obese.

Health Survey for England (HSE)

I was a teenager at the time and actually had no idea that I even was overweight -- but I definitely was. Today I'm a normal size, I've got curves, booty and I do not find emaciation even remotely attractive. But there's a huge difference between Size 0 and Size 40, and neither one is attractive to the general populace, because neither one is normal.

I've lived all over the USA, from Bklyn to Texas to L.A. and I've seen all shapes and sizes of Americans. If you asked me 20 years ago if being fat was a minority size, I'd have said no, absolutely not. But after living in Europe for the better part of a decade, I've got to say that obesity is not so commonplace as I'd thought it to be -- it's primarily the USA that is full up on overweight people. And I started to wonder why that would be. After a great deal of thought and personal observation, the following are the conclusions I've drawn. They are based on my objective rationales; this is not subjective reasoning here.

Obviously, not all of these things can be said about all Americans, but many of them can, or obesity wouldn't be so pandemic.

And if you're a Brit reading this through a smirk, have a look at the stats posted to the right; you are right on par with America when it comes to being overweight, and you're not far behind when it comes to being obese. In fact, your own government projects that you'll be at 90% by the year 2050. So Americans aren't the only obese country in the world... but if American society continues on with the following behaviors, it will certainly take top prize.

Americans Are Super Size Gluttons

It's actually not McDonald's that's making you fat -- it's how much you eat every time you go. (Although they've definitely increased their portion sizes over the years.) Gluttony doesn't lead to a svelte figure, but neither does moderation lead to obesity. If you Super Size your Big Mac menu, add an apple pie, a McFlurry and then dip your fries in mayo every time you eat, most of you are going to gain weight.

When's the last time you saw an adult just order a cheesburger and medium fries? It's enough food for me, and I'm not a Skinny Minnie. Consuming a normal sized meal at McDonalds is not going to make most people fat. Every time I go to McDonalds or KFC in Europe, they're quite busy serving fit and healthy looking people a normal portion of food; super size just isn't something you hear very often over here. But it's not just McDonalds -- Americans seem to binge anywhere. FYI: Just because Souper Salads has an all you can eat salad buffet, doesn't mean ten helpings is healthy for you, especially when your salad is covered with fatty dressing!

Twinkies, Tastycakes and Dunkin Donuts

Look, I'll be honest and say that I really, really miss my Tastycakes. If you stuck a box in front of me, I'd probably eat the whole thing immediately. It's called an addiction. The snack aisle in American grocery stores is LOADED with pure sugar and lard. A lifetime's consumption of this crap will kill you just as quickly as a lifetime of smoking. This stuff is not available in Europe to the degree it is in the US. While there are bakeries on every corner, the pastries here are sweet, but not overly so. After a few years of eating donuts with normal sugar content, the idea of a super glazed donut now makes me want to gag. You are sending your kids off to school with snacks that would be too sugary for an ant! Do you really wonder why so many children are obese these days? When I was a kid, there was maybe one obese child per grade level in school. Have you seen today's elementary schools? Deep frying Twinkies is not normal, people!

Americans Drive Everywhere

You drive to work, even if it's only a 10 minute walk. You drive to the train station that's just down the street. You drive the post office that's a few blocks away. Granted, if you live in the boondocks, I can understand why you'd need to drive everywhere. But if you live in the city, or live where there is a good public transportation system, and you drive everywhere -- you are one lazy mofo. And you're probably overweight as well, unless you also drive to the gym several times a week. Hey, I used to be just like you; I used to drive everywhere. But after a few years of walking whenever I can, it's easy now to see how stupid (not to mention environmentally irresponsible) driving everywhere is. Walking is one of the best ways to lose weight, so it's no wonder so many people who don't walk anywhere have obesity issues.

Americans Want Instant Gratification

There was an article in the Journal of Biosocial Science a few years ago which correlated American obesity with impatience. John Komlos, PhD, said Americans started getting fat when they started living too much in the now and thinking less about their futures. For example, instead of waiting until one had saved enough money to buy a new TV, the credit card was used to get it instantly. It think it's obvious enough from the current financial crisis that Americans have taken that idea to the extreme -- but how does it connect to obesity, exactly? It's all to do with not giving a toss about the future and only caring about what you've got at this moment -- or not having the patience to wait the future out. Set a super sized big mac menu down in front of an obese woman and she has too options: Eat it and maintain obesity, or choose something healthier and take a step in the direction of weight loss. If she could see the weightloss instantly, she'd have no problem skipping that burger. But she can't; she only knows that she will feel satisfied the moment she eats it. And that's all that matters to most Americans anymore; instant gratification.

Americans Spend Most of Their Time Indoors

Too many of y'all are totally content to sit on your backside all day. So fine, you need to sit at your desk for 8 hours -- do you need to sit in the Lazy Boy from the time you get home until you go to bed? Or perhaps you don't watch TV, spending all of your time in the Internet instead? Same butt, same position, same outcome! You need to get out and do something, even if it's just walking around the block. People in Europe go outside! They eat in the park. They play sports! They go hiking! I'm not even talking about exercise here -- if you get a normal amount of physical activity in on a daily basis, and stop eating like a pig, you will not be obese!

Americans Are Spoiled By Convenience

Y'all are so, so lazy. And before you deny it, answer me this: Would you walk up 3 flights of steps if there was an elevator? Not. I used to be the same way, but I now regularly walk up 6 flights because I know it keeps me fit. Would you walk 10 minutes to the shop if there were a bus that got you there in 1 minute? Not. Would you walk to the grocery store every few days and carry a few small bags back, if you could drive there once a month and buy tons of crap in one go? No. And I used to be the same -- but I no longer buy crap I don't need, because I can't be arsed to carry stuff I don't need. I have lost quite a bit of weight from that alone!

Americans Don't Take Responsibility For Self

If you've got a physiological condition that causes you to be obese, that's one thing. But if you're overweight and blame it on your metabolism, or the fact that you quit smoking, or that you're stressed, depressed, or don't have time to exercise, etc, etc, etc -- you are the person I'm talking about. If you don't want to do the work required to lose weight, that's fine and that's your prerogative, but don't hide behind things like "comfort eating" just because some TV shrink says that's why you do what you do. The fact is, you comfort eat because you allow yourself to comfort eat. I like to comfort eat too, FFS, but if I don't want to put weight on, I have to stop myself from eating a whole bag of Oreos in one go -- and believe me when I tell you I can eat that many!

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