WHY AMERICANS ARE FAT
If you want to read an excellent article on why Americans are fatter than others around the world, written by someone who’s actually studied the subject, click here .
I haven’t studied any of this- but I’m not buying it. Millions of Europeans with greatly varying diets and exercise habits weigh on average 16 lbs. less than Americans because of smaller portions, slower eating, and “informal exercise”? Uh… don’t think so. They keep thin by NOT watching their weight? Huh? Sounds like a convoluted attempt to explain a presently inexplicable phenomenon. Nope-I’m not sold. There’s something else going on here.
First of all anyone who’s been to Europe knows that while they don’t eat as much fast food, they certainly eat a lot. A lot of fatty, rich, sweet, cholesterol and calorie-laden food. And they smoke like fiends. And drink like fish. I was at a German wedding once where the cocktail hour treats consisted of beer and 8-10 varieties of liverwurst. Death on a chaffing dish by American standards. I, never one to shy away from a tasty life-shortening snack, even found myself limiting my intake of “Fleischwurst” (translation- “meat made from meat”- Bon Appetite)
What amazed me was the diminutive size of the flesh-chomping beer-swilling patrons at the party. My wife, a competitive swimmer, and I, at 6’ 190 lbs., looked like planets.
The conventional theories for this weight discrepancy do not make any attempt to explain the thousands of exceptions to the rules. If it’s all about fast food- how to explain the thousands of fat American families that eat at home a vast majority of the time? How to explain the thousands of Americans who follow all the rules of diet and exercise and remain fat? How to explain why some Americans and Europeans live on Big Macs and 36 oz. Cokes and remain thin? I know a young healthy vegetarian who eats like a bird and exercises regularly, yet can’t lose weight. Her friend eats whatever, whenever, doesn’t exercise, and could get lost behind a string bean.
Being fat in America seems a cruel and random phenomenon, which leads to depression, failed diets, non-used gym memberships, millions spent on snake-oil pills, and nutritionists and dieticians constantly spinning their wheels trying to make sense of the latest fad. Can you imagine the panic amongst the ‘Nutri-Nazis’ when men everywhere started shrinking dramatically after trading in their whole grains and pasta for steak, Scotch and creamed spinach?
There would seem to be another, as of yet undiscovered variable, a sort of “American Gene”, that just predisposes us to obesity. Could American obesity be a condition like cancer, that science has “sort of” found causation for, but not really? Could there be a variable that has not been discovered yet?
I’ve got an idea.
It’s founded in Darwinian evolution, global modernization, and the unique nature of America itself. America is the first (or at least most recent) nation in history to be completely made up of people from “somewhere else”. It is the first place where the land’s ancient dwellers were almost completely removed and replaced with individuals from other well- established nations. Modern travel technology made this possible, and America happened to be the right place at the right time in which this phenomenon could occur. So-what does this have to do with all the fatties around here?
Because of the unique heterogeneous ancestry of Americans, we are the first guinea pigs in what I consider the “Great Global Diet Experiment”. We are the first nation to not have its own diet, dictated by the natural resources of the land. Europeans settling in the New World were suddenly exposed to a diet completely different from that which their genetics had become accustomed to. Soon, food was being imported here from all over the world, and still is. When Italians decide what to have for dinner, it’s more than likely a version of food that has been eaten in Italy for thousands of years. Same goes for Germany, Japan, Zimbabwe, and Australia. In America, when we decide what’s for dinner, it sounds like a U.N. roll call. “Italian? Chinese? Japanese? Indian? Mexican?” If it ain’t a hamburger or hot dog- it came from somewhere else.
Is it possible that this is why Americans are fat? Is there something about the geographic origins of food that cause obesity in those who enjoy cuisine not from their ancestral homelands? Are Swedes thinner not because of fewer Big Macs, but because their diets consist almost exclusively of Swedish food? Are Indians thinner not because they walk to work, but because they almost always eat Indian food? Are Americans destined for obesity because our cuisine is inherently made up of foods from all nations?
Besides this geographic distinction, America is the only nation to exist almost exclusively in a time when fat people have access to modern living conveniences and medical care that allows them to live and prosper, whereas they would have perished a thousand years ago. (And you know what happens when fat people live to breeding age- fat babies.) Thousands of years ago, if, say a bunch of Italians started getting fat on those tasty noodles that rascal Marco Polo brought over from China, they died. Those who could tolerate the newly introduced al dente cuisine thrived. These survivors are the Romans, Venetians, and Bolognese of today. In contrast, when Americans cannot tolerate the foreign food, they live and fill the gyms, nutritionist’s and gastroenterologist’s offices of modern America.
Is there a way to test this theory? Sure- Italian- Americans stock up on the Ronzoni, German-Americans knock yourself out with knockwurst, and Mexican Americans- head “South of the Border” and order that Gordita! Would this experiment prove my theory? Maybe- but Americans enjoy eating a variety of food too much to ever test it.
So I say eat up. Go nuts. Enjoy. Eat your fat friggin’ head off. Live a good life instead of a long one. Be a big fat corpse, and get buried in a piano box. Die of a massive coronary at 55, with a smile on your face, and some Chinese chicken wing sauce on your tie. It's part of being an American.