I just came back from a vacation with my family. We went to Italy and Lithuania. During our stay, I did make some interesting observations regarding obesity in Europe; there really is no obesity in Europe. Of course there are those who are a little overweight, but it's not like it is here in the States.
So, why is there obesity in America and how is Europe able to stay trim? Some of my thoughts here are based on the eye test and some based on research and general knowledge. First, I did notice some real differences in culture. European cities do have fast food but not commercial fast food, at least to the point that we have in the US. In Lithuania, a lot of the diet includes a variety of potato dishes, which of course is a starch and from what I have heard over the years, should not be eaten regularly in order to maintain normal weight. Lithuanians are typically big boned and tall. This is my third trip to Lithuania spanning 12 years. I've never spotted a person that was markedly overweight like you see every day here in the US.
My family and I then spent four days in Rome. Everyone knows about the wonderful pasta dishes one can eat. What I saw for four days in Rome is this: pasta, ready made pizza stands on almost every street corner, bakeries with that outstanding crusty bread. The cookies and gelato stores are everywhere and filled with people. Not just the tourists in these stores. The locals are in these stores too. So, are those locals overweight? Nope, it's basically the same as in Lithuania, no overweight people. Ok, let's break this down; what are the differences in the American and European cultures?
1. What I did not see in Europe were the usual fast food shops that you see in the US. In America and on any street corner, there are plenty of restaurants that use trans-fats oil, the unhealthiest of all oils. Restaurants claim it's changing and are purportedly using healthier oils. Whether or not trans-fats are used, it's still saturated fats, which move from your mouth right over to your hips and belly.
2. Americans feast on their favorite vegetable, French fries, their favorite sandwich a big burger with cheese and wash it down with a large soda that's made with high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. The burger alone is 29 grams of fat. A medium order of fries is 22 grams of fat. 51 Grams! What about the pop? Frankly, it's in a league of its own. On average, there are 7-10 teaspoons of sugar in a serving of pop. That's just one serving but many people, especially teens have 3 or more cans a day! 3 cans of pop are 30 Tsp. of sugar. Oh, do you think anyone has dessert?
3. High fructose corn syrup is a real health hazard and used in everything from ice cream, cookies, cakes, commercial breads, meats and sausages. HFCS is the number one source of calories in the US. The biggest culprit for this horrible product is soda pop. We are the number one consumer of soda pop per capita in the world. High empty calories providing no nourishment. Is it a wonder Americans are breaking the scale? On the other side are the diet sodas that are made with aspartame or other artificial sweetners. Those are getting a reputation for being more unhealthy than the sugared sodas.
4. From a young age, it's apparent that many kids are sent the wrong message about diet and nutrition. It is also apparent that most families don't sit down together at the dinner table every night. Whether or not kids liked it, back in the day, that's what we all did. We sat down at the dinner table and had a balanced meal. Now, too much junk food fills their stomachs and there is no room for a nourishing meal. Their diet is poor at home and now, school lunches are being criticized even on TV with the Jamie Oliver food experience. How do they break the chain?
5. I hate to show my age but back in the day before electronic games, my friends and I would literally hang out after school to play any sport we could. That was our past time. That was our exercise. I try to get my 14 year old outside and away from the laptop. It's very difficult. We do play tennis a couple times a week and he has gym in school but the culture is very different. There really is no motivation for kids to go out and play after school. The poor diet and lousy exercise regimen makes for fat kids. Fat kids turn into fat adults. Jamie Oliver is really opening some eyes to what American kids are eating in school.
6. Exercise for adults in the US is quite a bit different than what I saw in Europe. Americans use their cars a heck of a lot more than Europeans. If there is a good reason for the gas prices going up as they are, perhaps more people will walk or bike instead of driving everywhere and anywhere. Regarding actual exercise, I sense that health clubs and working out is more of an American thing where Europeans just do more physical labor like walk and take stairs.
I hope that we as a nation can turn this obesity issue around because with obesity comes poor health. Issues like diabetes, heavy metal toxicity, high blood pressure and more will put an extra burden on our health insurance system.
Peter Pauletti created his website in an effort to make people aware of heavy metal toxicity in children and adults. Toxicity comes from many sources including from foods in the above mentioned article.
For more information, go to http://healyourtoxicchild.com/.