Tuesday, June 23, 2009
What the world eats. Quite the difference between countries.
My husband recently returned home from a 9-day business trip to Germany. All the while he was there, he kept telling me: "Nobody here is overweight...What's wrong with Americans?"
Here on the East Coast of the U.S., we have our fair share of overweight and obese people. In fact, when I first moved here from Canada 5 years ago, I was astonished at how large and out of shape people here were! Then I walked into my first grocery store and finally understood. Compared to Canada (at least where I came from in British Columbia), the grocery stores here were packed with more junk food than I'd ever seen in my life. I also couldn't for the life of me find a can of tuna that didn't contain soy because it was packed in vegetable broth, or couldn't find a sprouted grain bread product that didn't contain excess sugar (I've found one now thankfully).
The other difference between my home country and here is the lack of physical activity that people participate in each day. I swear, since moving here, I've driven more in my car in the past 5 years than I have in my whole life! I used to walk to stores, ride my bike or take the bus. There's none of that happening here, that's for sure.
The increased physical activity is also what my husband noticed in Germany and felt attributed to the lack of fatness. Women (beautiful ones he had to tell me...) rode their bikes everywhere wearing dresses or skirts, while the men wore their suits. That was just the way it was.
Here I once tried riding my bike to the gym and to school, but because of the lack of sidewalks or bike paths, I saw my life flash before my eyes as cars tried to use me for target practice. I never did that again.
Daily food choices just are totally different in Germany compared to the US (and yes, I'll admit, parts of Canada), which accounts for a lot of the differences between body composition of the people. My husband absolutely LOVED the HIGH FAT diet of the Germans. Yes, I said high fat. But, the diet wasn't high sugar, which is the difference between here and there. For example, there isn't such as thing as low-fat milk over there. Whereas here, we push low-fat milk like it's supposed to be a calorie-saver. However, the lack of fat leads to lack of satiety. And, there are beneficial fats in milk (like MCTs and CLA), that might actually increase fat oxidation.
Doesn't it seem strange that for the past 40 years, our country has been pushing a low-fat diet and the people have gotten fatter??? When in other countries fat isn't restricted, and the people are leaner? Hmmmm....
Anyways, to prove my point a bit more, have a look at the difference between food intake from families around the world in this slide show from the book "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel. This is a slide show portraying a week's worth of food from families across the world.
Pay close attention to the vast difference between each country/family. For example in the US and Mexican families, the fluids are all in plastic bottles (in Germany, the bottles are glass), there's a lot of fast food and processed food, and specifically, from the North Carolina family, there are BARELY any fruits and vegetables in their weekly grocery line-up (but there sure are a lot of potato chips! [don't those count as vegetables?]).
I'd be interested to hear all your thoughts about this and if you think there's something drastically wrong with the way many Americans (and some Canadians) live their lives. Lack of physical movement and poor food choices sure aren't making anyone's waist line smaller.
at 7:08 PM