An Alarming List…And (of course) We’re at the Top of it

Yesterday I made some comments about the healthiest countries in the world.  I wrote about how there are those regions of the world that prioritize health farming practices, active lifestyle, and have supportive Government bodies who are interested in maintaining healthy citizens.

So I know we like to be the best at everything.  We want to have the most, do it the quickest, be the smartest, and yes, be the biggest.  Apparently we are literally the biggest country in the world.  According to the Huffington Post, here is the rest of our shameful company:

  1. United States | 33.8% Obesity
  2. Mexico | 30%
  3. New Zealand | 26.5%**
  4. Chile | 25.1%
  5. Australia | 24.6%
  6. Canada | 24.2%
  7. United Kingdom | 23%
  8. Ireland | 23%
  9. Luxemborg | 22.1%
  10. Finland | 20.2

**First things first, what in the world is New Zealand doing here?  They are also mentioned on several of the healthiest countries lists.  But at number three here, they definitely suffer obesity, and in no slight way!  I’m curious about why this is–how could it be that a country with a fantastic record of low disease, high activity and long life spans is also the world’s 3rd most obese.  Seems to directly disprove any thought that diet and exercise is enough, so I turn to mentality.  I also turn to the theory that moderation is key, and that even too much of an inherently good thing, is a bad thing. 

Oh, America.  What are we going to do with you?  It’s to the point where the other members of this list attribute their obesity issues to becoming “Americanized”.  Meaning McDonalds type “restaurants” are showing up more often now, and other convenience foods found in the notorious center aisles of grocery stores are becoming more popular.  The thing is, we’re still the cool kid on the block.  What, with New York, LA, San Fran, Chicago, America is swimming with amazing scenes and opportunity.  Apparently, we’re contagious.  One would hope in the good ways, as well as the obese ones.

Some of the irony for me lies in the fact that we are a a giant collage of cultures and ideas.  And our food is no different.  So when I see Mexico on the list, about as obese as we are, I think, “okay, make sense.  Eat enough Mexican food and you’re gonna get fat”.  But, wait!  How do I know that?  Because you can eat as much Mexican food here as you can in Mexico!  Same goes with Irish food, or Canadian (are they really any different from us?  What is Canadian food, anyway?).  I digress.  My point is, collectively, we don’t really have a cultural cuisine that we can look at and say–“yup, it’s that American food that did it”.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But, if I’m right, it’s even harder to pinpoint where the problem is exactly so we can begin recoursive action. 

To be safe, we can easily say it’s the practices we have here that diametrically oppose those in countries like Japan (2% obesity):  Unsafe farming, refined sugars and processed goods, lack of focus on making improvements, lack of Governmental support of healthy living.  Certainly, an elimination of even ONE of these factors would make a measureable difference in the old American waistline. 

But I would prefer to propose a challenge.  Unlike Mexico, whose culture is grounded in centuries of mono-cuisine (delicious, but unhealhty and fattening), Americans have an opportunity!  We are what we make ourselves.  We are rebellious.  We recreate ourselves all the time.  There is no mono-culture here, because we all bring whatever we like to the table.  So let’s start talking dinner table, and invite all the wonderful cool kid parts about us to the kitchen and to the garden.  We might be the fattest, but I thoroughly believe that the same way we got here, we can turn it around.  Reinvention is our middle name.

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2 thoughts on “An Alarming List…And (of course) We’re at the Top of it

  1. Somer says:

    New Zealand is ranked as the highest per capita for meat consumption in the world. I would guess this is why they are so obese. American’s suffer far more disease associated with meat consumption because of the way meat is farmed in America. For New Zealand, It’s probably in spite of their meat consumption that the rest of their unprocessed diet helps them to stay healthier.

  2. jinji says:

    Excellent point!! I hadn’t thought of that. What great insight. I wonder if any of the other countries on that list have a similar issue.

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