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Why are Americans so Fat? – 7 reasons

Being half Swedish, half American and living in Sweden has its ups and downs.

It always pisses me off when Swedes joke about how fat Americans are. “Bacon ice cream” is one of their “funniest” jokes.

It’s not funny. It’s sad. Being Obese (or having any other serious health problem) is very un-funny.

Here’s my theory/justification/whatever:

1 : Horrible subsidizing practices

The American government essentially subsidizes fast food ingredients. Don’t believe me?

Check out the following Peter Jennings report (wonderful man – he is missed) :

Part 2/4

Part 3/4

Part 4/4

The government pays out huge subsidies for the production of:

  • Corn
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Sugar

Why corn?

Corn becomes HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) which is a very unhealthy form of sugar used in ALL soft drinks unless stated otherwise on the bottle. It’s also used in thousands of American products that normally wouldn’t contain sugar (salad dressings, pre-packaged foods). HFCS is especially dangerous because it doesn’t trigger as powerful of an insulin response as other sugars. The result? Still hungry. And getting fatter.

HFCS has also been connected to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Corn also becomes corn oil (fried food), popcorn (movie theatres!), corn flour (junkfood), and other obesity-inducing goodies.

Corn is also fed to cows, making them super fat, but also sick. Their digestive tract isn’t meant to handle corn, and what ends up happening is (watch Food, Inc.) E.Coli bacteria flourish inside them. This contaminates the meat, so meat producers are actually forced to sterilize the meat using ammonia. So the beef is now laced with dead e.coli-feces, ammonia, plus all the antibiotics the cow ate during its sick life.

Why soybeans?

You are probably thinking TOFU! Health food right?

Actually, no, and no.

Soybeans are first and foremost used to make soybean oil. Which is good for frying fast foods.

(By the way, tofu is NOT a health food. Sorry, that was a bust.)

Soybeans are also used to make soy lecithin (emulsifier for more processed junk).


Wheat is usually processed into white flour. White hamburger buns, for example. Again, nothing healthy so far…


This one speaks for itself.

2 : Infrastructure optimized for inactivity

Europeans are relatively skinny compared to Americans. But they don’t buy any more gym-memberships than Americans, as far as I know.

No…A European lifestyle is naturally more active than an American one. Walking and biking are part of getting around. Physical activity is  integrated into daily life as a necessity, not only as recreation. When I moved to Sweden, I was blown away by the bike paths and sidewalks that most cities incorporate. European cities are also in comparison tightly built, so that biking to the supermarket is not a full-day exhibition.

This might sound mundane, but American supermarkets are generally HUGE compared to European ones. That means in the US, they are fewer and further apart. Europe supermarkets are on the other hand smaller (but still affordable) and conveniently located on street corners.

I have lived in 3 different cities in Sweden, and I was always within a 3-minute walk to the nearest supermarket. Driving to the store would not only have been inefficient, but it would actually waste time. This places I lived in the cities were not particularly sought-out. They were just the best housing I could find being a new student.

In most US cities, unfortunately, biking is a recreation done only on designated bike paths. Biking anywhere else will fill your lungs with exhaust, and endanger your life. At the same time, it is too slow to consider seriously as a form of transportation, due to the greatest distances between urban centers.

3 : Brainwashed youth

American children are BOMBARDED with advertisements DESIGNED to compromise their young minds into becoming nagging brats. The food industry is not only getting away with making parenting more challenging (due to the elevated nag factor), but even worse, they are encouraging our children to eat foods that will set them up for life-long illness. In Sweden, and many other European countries, advertising to children is ILLEGAL! Swedish law forbids advertising to children until 12, for example.

The problem with advertising to young children is that they are unable to distinguish between an advertisement and other sources of information. That is, they don’t realize that they are being sold something. Advertisers are fully aware of this fact, and take full advantage of it. At our, and our children’s expense.

For more information, refer to the clips above.

4 : Water flouridation

67% of Americans receive fluoridated water. Although fluoride is said to benefit the teeth when applied topically, intentionally DRINKING it has some other consequences:

Health consequences of drinking flouride :

  • Suppresses thyroid gland (makes you overweight)
  • Mild anxiolytic properties (makes you passive, unlikely to think for yourself, negatively impacts IQ)
  • Causes cancer (more money for drug companies)
  • Inhibits multiple bodily functions (makes you obese, various other diseases)

5 : Terrible response to Obesity

To top it all off, the overall response to the Obesity crisis is chock-full of corporate profits. Artificial sweeteners are a great example: Upon consuming them, the tongue registers a sweet taste. As a response, the body releases insulin to prepare for the increase in blood sugar. However, the spike in blood sugar never occurs. As a result, the subject experiences an intense craving for sweets and quick carbs. In turn, artificial sweeteners actually make you crave sugar more, so you end up gaining more weight. In addition, long-term use of such sweeteners have been documented to be detrimental to your health in other ways (cancer, tumors, etc). I won’t go into any more details right now.

Another response is the low-fat diet. Fat makes you fat right? Makes sense to me!

Wrong. Fat makes you feel full. What has ended up happening is manufacturers started marketing their products as fat-free. However, to compensate, they added more sugar and/or artificial sweeteners to make up for the lost flavor.

Fact : A high-carb diet with little to no fat will make you even fatter, because of how the our appetite works. Try this:

Breakfast day 1: Eat several pieces of toast with a moderate amount of butter until you feel comfortably full. Count the number of calories you eat (#slices of bread + # tablespoons butter/margerine)

Breakfast day 2 : Do the same thing but eat the toast without butter. It won’t taste very good. But eat until** you feel full anyway.

**The problem is, you might never feel full. The fat balanced with the carbohydrates is essential to trigger a sense of fullness. Contrary to common belief, sensations of hunger and fullness have very little to with how much food is in your stomach. More important is *what* is in your stomach.

6 : Being Obese is O.K.

What would happen if everything and everybody on Earth shrunk 100 times smaller? Would anybody notice?

When an entire family is obese, there really isn’t any problem. Or rather the problem ceases to exist visually.

One of the reasons Americans are staying fat is because their friends and family are overweight. Obesity is tolerated and accepted. Nobody is going to walk up to a fat person and say “Hey man! What are you thinking!? Lose some weight!!! Are you trying to kill yourself?!”

Maybe we should make that a norm. Encourage 1 fat person/day to lose some weight.

7 : Losing weight is hard

Losing weight should be as simple as eating fewer calories than normal for an extended period of time. So, in theory:

If I eat 3000 calories per day as my standard diet (maintenance - neither losing nor gaining weight)


All I need to do is eat 2500 calories per day for a few months and I will shed the fat. Right?

>Yes, if you burn exactly the same number of calories.<

What ends up happening is that when you start starving yourself, your body responds by making you tired and less active. And you sleep more. So now your new maintenance diet is 2500 calories. No more weight loss.

Although I have never been significantly overweight, I truly believe that losing weight has very little to do with counting calories. It’s more about changing what you eat, as well as makinglifestyle changes. The Diet Solution Program has some good information to offer in this subject area.

February 24th, 2011

66 Responses to “Why are Americans so Fat? – 7 reasons”

  1. Blogzilla says:

    I am just sick of all the excuses. Take a look at what people eat. It is disgusting. Two major problems that were not mentioned is, USA doesn’t have the time or know how to cook. When I cook at home, I don’t put mono and diglycerides or sodium benzoate in my food :/

    Processed foods area a big omen

  2. Sherlock95 says:

    I don’t know how you can sit on your ass all day and do nothing about and continue to complain about how fat you are with a cheeseburger in your ogre like hands.

    • steph says:

      That is very very judgmental. They are all human not soulless ogres because they have a few extra pounds. You should re-think how you treat people.

      • Shawny says:

        When did I ever call anyone “soulless ogres”?

        Am I judging fat people? No… Just trying to explain to ignorant critics why things are the way they are. And hopefully make a difference in promoting change.

  3. Brandie says:

    Thanks for posting this informative article. Recently I’ve been wanting to loose weight and take control of my health. So this article was definitely helpful and kinda a wake up call.
    I’ve heard and/or read some of the points expressed before and we Americans really do have a long way to go before any substantial change is made.

    I think more people have to become aware that there is a problem in the first place at the trend that this nation has taken on. Secondly we have to make a conscious choice to change our lifestyles and actually become more educated in what we consume. Third the U.S is like a lazy cat that hates moving…we have to demand change and make these companies accountable in their decisions. Sure a major percentage will complain, shriek, and cry at the poking, but it has to happen. Our food is making us stupid and depriving us of true nutrients. We are being made sick, slovenly, and lazy…Plus the constant bombardment of advertisements meant to induce people and children to buy this poison is ridiculous….
    I wish Monsanto really would just drop off of the face of the earth…oh how I wish.

    Seriously we are what we eat and now more than ever this has never been truer.

    Anyway thanks lovely blog!

  4. Disagree says:

    I disagree with your comment regarding calorie counting. The problem with most people is they don’t count calories and end up consuming too many. You do need to count your calories and watch your portions. Do this along with exercise to lose weight and keep it off.

    • Shawny says:

      Dear Disagree,

      I acknowledge the fact that calorie counting may be of value. However, relying on it as the primary method of weight loss is flawed in my opinion. The reason being that the three sources of calories (carbs, proteins, and fats) affect our appetites in different ways. Carbs tend to give us quick energy, but not hold us. Proteins and fats are digested slower and make us feel full longer. However, eating solely proteins and fats (like the Atkins diet) will make us feel slow and lethargic. This is my understanding anyway. Take good care!

    • Steven says:

      I have to agree–I think *accurate* calorie counting is the most important thing–meaning, keep a food diary of everything you eat and get a food scale to accurately determine the calories you eat. When people say calorie counting doesn’t work, I bet it’s because their “guestimates” are way off.

      • Shawny says:

        Well, what do you think about the concept of “feeling full”? Calories from source X may not feel as filling as the same number of calories from source Y.

        Meanwhile, an equal number of calories of source X+Y may be the most filling, and hence encourage weight loss better than X or Y alone.

  5. Bria says:

    I hate how people hate all processed foods. Its literally saying that taking a piece of chicken and grinding it up suddenly makes it super unhealthy and carcinogenic.

    • girliegirl says:

      I see what you are saying (off topic..if you ever have the bad luck of working in the meat industry you will never EVER eat anything made of ground meat again..EVER lol).. I think by processed mostly it’s talking of canned/boxed crap that is full of preservatives….

  6. thetruthgirl107 says:

    listen not all americans are fat…-.- this article is completely offensive just saying

    • Anonymous says:

      People get so hurt over this stuff. Just realize the best for yourself and try your best to live healthier. We as humans simply weren’t meant to be fat, which is why most health problems come from being morbidly obese/way overweight. Everyone judges. It will continue to happen. When we change, it’s an unconscious thing to notice people around that need to change or should in our opinion. No one wants to be called out. Insecurities and all that stuff. If more Americans did push-aways (lol) then we would all be healthier and possibly live longer. By the way, one of our biggest problems is the over consumption of animal protein.

  7. Cara says:

    Just wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity
    in your post is simply nice and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  8. Ana says:

    Nice article. I like how informative it is. What bugs me more is how the government is either supporting “get fat” or “Get slim” policies at the expense of its people. Educating its public and encouraging them to eat healthy is not even considered. I gave up soda, HFCS and hydrogenated fats completely, switcthed to whole grains, ate a lot of vegetables and healthy fats. I still ate until I was full and exercised. The extra 30 pounds I had came off in a year. There was no quick way, easy way or super-duper hard way to do that. I totally believe when you say that the food industry and weight-loss are making us fat and keeping us fat.

  9. Giuseppe Nacci says:

    Rome: GMOs and Hydrogenated Fats Cause Diabetes, due to “American Obesity”

    Rome, July 2012

    In the presence of the Italian Health Monitoring Centre, with the support of the Senate of the Italian Republic, the Italian Ministry for Health, the Regional Council of Lazio, the Municipal Authority of Rome and the Provincial Authority of Rome, the ten short-listed authors of medicine books deemed to be of particular interest were rewarded. The event was filmed by Raiuno, the Italian public broadcaster.

    The awarding ceremony was held at Terrazza Caffarelli, on the Capitoline Hill, which was also visited by President Obama and his wife on their state visit to Rome.

    While introducing one of the competitors, Trieste-based Dr. Nacci, special attention was given to a study led by American scientists in the Eighties. The results of that study pointed to a possible correlation between Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus (which is related to Obesity) and cell wall damage deriving from Non-Natural Fats.

    In his book “Come affrontare il Diabete” (How to Tackle Diabetes), Dr. Nacci linked this great American discovery from the 80s to a previous paper published by Dr. Mosenthal in 1933, also in the USA. The paper indicated very low numbers of diabetes cases in the United States in the 1920s.

    The first observation made by Dr. Nacci was to consider hydrogenated fats (which are artificial, non-natural fats invented in 1912) as a possible cause for Diabetes, as the disease was virtually unknown in the 1920s and subsequently affected 6-10% of the US population in the years between 1950 and 1990. The development was concomitant with the diffusion of hydrogenated fats in the US food chain after the Second World War. At the same time, the percentage of overweight people in the USA increased, reaching a proportion of between 20 and 30% of the total.

    The second observation made by Dr. Nacci was to relate the introduction into the US food chain of Genetically Modified Organisms with the sudden appearance, after the Nineties, of so-called “American Obesity”, which led to an unexpected increase in the number of overweight Americans from 20-30% (1950-1988) to about 70% (1990-2010) and to a similarly sharp increase in the number of people affected by Type-2 Diabetes (which is linked to obesity).

    The book “Come affrontare il Diabete” (“How to Tackle Diabetes”) http://www.procaduceo.org/dottnacci/NACCI%20Abstract%20italian%20Book%20on%20Diabete1.pdf

  10. James Dean says:

    This article is quite biased as in assuming all Americans are either obese or overweight. But you do have some great points, write up an article on the obesity epidemic in the UK.

    • Shawny says:

      I actually didn’t make that assumption at all…but I could understand why you might say that from the title of the article. I tried to present only the facts, but I am of course only human.

  11. Mike says:

    The amount of hatred on this comment board is amazing. What’s worse is that those haters also seem obsessive about their own normal weight. 110 pounders needing to lose weight? Please. I would take a kind overweight person over an obsessive hateful bigot any day of the week.

    All of the reasons given in the article are accurate and true but there are a few left out. It is in some animals a trait to overindulge. Some animals in captivity get fat. But not all get fat because some are not hard-wired to overindulge. I believe that these are ancient survival traits for highly seasonal climates among the human species. An abundance of available fattening food makes some fat while others remain thin or normal.

    I have been overweight most of my adult life. I have also lost 20% of my body weight on three ocasions and not been able to keep it off. Lack of discipline and being lazy are not my weaknesses. I was a top student and athlete. I remain a successful business person. There is in this a factor that I simply cannot control over the long term, no matter how hard I try. It is a combination of traits, and both the natural and social environments in which we live.

  12. rina bennett says:

    I am so tired everywhere I go always see fat people here in California. Needless to say, I am 33, 110 lbs, and have 2 kids and am still wanting to lose weight. I am 5’1″
    Almost 80% people around the mall, street, restaurant, they are really obese.
    I am running in 2 months and lost 5 lbs.. and i also know food here is so unhealthy especially fast food, so I always cook my own food with eggs and fruits/vegetables. Or sometimes with the milk shake. And then again, depending on each individual do they want to control them selves/self discipline with a good food or just follow the unhealthy ways,, Time to choose and go back to normal.. Not easy but not hard,,

  13. Sheree says:

    Thank you for this. I came across this after doing an internet search on American obesity because I was scolded by a relative for calling Americans fat a**es(which was said playfully really).In any case he accused me of ridiculing people unnecessarily and bashing my own people.The point is he turned me into the bad guy for noticing that Americans are gaining weight, and defended them. Im sorry but the acceptance has got to stop. Our culture encourages obesity and this post is dead on accurate, like it or not.

  14. Mike says:

    Nice, I like this. I am doing a research essay; who is the author of this?

    • Shawny says:

      I Shawn, am the author. Since I write about senstive subjects I prefer not to use my full name. I am the site adminstrator.

  15. FAT MAN HATTER says:


  16. joe says:


  17. Schools need to change their menus! Health Policy should compensate people who are not obese. I don’t believe anymore that obesity it’s because of a certain conditions but MOST of these are luck of willingness to be healthy and being so irresponsible in so many ways. Americans are luck of self control as well!

  18. Namisha says:

    I am 14 and 110 lbs trying to get down to 100 lbs. It’s really hard for me to find snacks that are “healthy” because even the 100 calorie snack packs have too many carbs, sugar, and empty calories and almost no nutrition. So, instead I eat only stuff that I can tell are close to their original form, like fresh fruit and vegetables. As a rule of thumb, I don’t eat anything whose ingredients I can’t pronounce. However, a lot of people at my school bring unhealthy things for lunch like chips, sugary juice, cookies, and packaged junk. However, they don’t gain any weight because they have a high metabolism since they are teens like me. I think one reason Americans are so fat is because they gain bad eating habits from a young age, but don’t gain any extra weight from those habits when they are young since they are growing. But they continue to eat the same way when they are an adult, after their metabolism has slowed down, causing them to gain weight and become obese.

  19. Jinrui says:

    it is a good article, but i have to say, tofu is realy healthy! do research on it. of course nothing is healthy if you cook it in american style(deep fry it with a pound of sugar).

  20. Andrew S says:

    Great article! There is a major problem in our country with obesity. The most frustrating part is that people who are overweight fail to see it is a problem until it is to late. I myself am 6’8 and got up to 275 pounds in college. I started running and eating more protein heavy foods and easily dropped 60 lbs in about 2you months. I have maintained a weight of 210-215 since then which I feel is healthy and I feel in shape. The moral of the story is hard work pays off as well as dieting.

  21. Mike says:

    What I do not understand is that a significant part of American society would not have a problem with someone giving a smoker at a bus stop a lecture on how what they are doing is bad for them and can lead to their potential death. However I beleive most of American socitey would take offense to someone going into McDonald’s and telling fat people to put the big mac down cause what they are doing is killing themselves. As Americans we need to face the facts half of us are fat grecey lazy slobes. Who likes a fat grecey lazy slobe??? Who wants to be around them either??? Maybe that is why the rest of the world frowns upon us. I have made it a habit of yelling at fat people when I see them eating fast food. I have also made it a habit of telling them great job when I see them working out. Bottom line is I am sick of being classified into a certain group because I am American and half of us are fat. I am sick of paying increased health insurance because a lot of Americans suffer from heart disease. I am sick of waiting to pull out of a Wal Mart parking lot because some lazy American fat fu*k has to wait five minutes in the middle of the parking lot for some one to pull out so they can get up front parking when they can simply park an etra 150 feet away from the store. If you want my opinion fat people should be put in camps unless they truely suffer from a medical problem.

    • Shawny says:

      You have every right to be angry, but it is my personal opinion that Americans as individuals are not 100% responsible for being overweight/obese (reasons 1-7). The government is also at fault, the food industry, and the people responsible for the infrastructure of cities.

      In short, American life makes obesity an EASY task. It’s not difficult to become a HUGE person in the USA… Personal responsibility plays a role but not more than 50% IMO.

  22. Kate says:

    I agree with many of the things said here… Besides the idea of strangers approaching fat people to encourage them to lose weight. I believe that would be much less successful than a shift in norms.

    However, the reason for my response is to react to a comment made by Joe. It is absolutely ridiculous to blame America’s education system for obesity. Educators are given a limited amount of time with students and expected to teach them everything about the world. Why are Americans in debt? Because teachers didn’t teach them finances. Why are Americans fat? Because teachers never reinforced positive nutrition. Why are Americans losing ground in engineering and math? Because teachers were too busy teaching about credit and nutrition!

    That being said, I do believe it’s up to schools to nourish children with the best food available. Ultimately that’s up to the community’s willingness to advocate and pay for through taxes better food.

    • Shawny says:


      Thanks for contributing. The idea of approaching total strangers and telling them to loose weight was a bit of a joke. In reality, I think it would be great to see people who care about each other be able to address the subject without it being considered a personal attack. After all, the latest research shows that there is no such thing as a “happy healthy” fat person. An overweight person can never be considered to be completely healthy as many aspects of their health will begin to suffer down the line.

      • elle says:

        This is interesting that you should say so. There is a fat acceptance movement and this idea that fat people can be fit. It’s all bunk. I am attempting to lose weight for the 4th time in my adult life. I could not stick with it because of many of the reasons you cited. Obesity is not an individual failing. America manufactures fat people.

        • Shawny says:


          I believe the individual must accept some responsibility. No one (I hope?) has ever force-fed you food.

          BUT – it is outrageous that society ENCOURAGES us at every corner of life to eat and live in a way that promises illness.

          It is WRONG that unhealthy foods are subsidized and made cheaper.

          And that the only way to get around is by sitting STATIONARY in an automobile.

          This leaves at least three difficult challenges for the individual:

          1) Seek out REAL food, and avoid all the junk. It’s going to cost you much, much more.
          2) Go out of your way just to get daily physical activity.
          3) Try to stay sane while doing these things, without scaring your friends.

          These tasks should be EASY for the individual. But the corporate agenda and government policies sabotage that possibility.

          I suppose our greatest power as individuals is to always remember that for each dollar you spend on food/drink/services, you are casting a “vote” for that product. If a product stops receiving votes, it will die off.

  23. Terah says:

    LOW-FAT DIETS WILL MAKE YOU FAT. Thank you for saying this… it makes me so upset that people truly believe stuffing themselves with carbs and vegetable oils is healthier than eating meat and butter.

    • Shawny says:


      Thanks for posting. Agreed. It is a tragedy that the nutrient called “fat” is so widely believed to induce fat gain in a person. Fat is probably the least guilty nutrient out of sugar, starches, and fats in that regard.

  24. Mary says:

    I wish we had more stores around the corner like in Europe. I absolutely HATE having to drive everywhere. I try walking to class every once in awhile, but when it gets to be -20, it is not fun.

    I do have a question, tofu isn’t health food? Why is that? Even organic tofu? Do you happen to have links to articles on this point? I LOVE tofu and eat it more than meat. In fact, that it where I get most of my protein.

    Love this article!

    • Shawny says:

      Hey Mary,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Well, Mercola had written a lot about soy protein. Now, I know Mercola is very sensational, and I don’t agree with everything he writes (or sells). But he’s certainly got a lot to say about soy protein that raises a lot of suspicion. Here’s the article:


      I can’t believe his opt-in doesn’t have a x-button, just write a bogus email address.

  25. [...] the (suprising) popularty of my article Why are Americans so Fat? I decided to expand my theory to investigate this rather ugly stereotype ”Why are Americans [...]

  26. june toroda says:

    Aside from the fattening qualities of these ‘food’ products it is wise to remember that almost all soy and corn in the USA is genetically modified. This means that you should not eat it at all.
    Corn is now a registered pesticide and scientifically is not considered a vegetable. So sweet corn, HFCS, corn oil are very harmful to your health.
    Soy is what ‘vegetable oil’is made from, has a nasty taste and smell when you fry with it. Again very bad news as far as eating healthily.
    In fact people are sick just from growing it. There have been dozens of stories from the southern states, from Brazil. Argentina and Mexico about increases in cancers, miscarriage, birth defects and sterility from the farmers and their families. If that isn’t enough for you, the US government are backing several biotech companies who are razing the rain forests to make room to grow more of the evil stuff.
    The government are well aware of the repercussions of genetically modified foods, which are so far reaching as to be impossible to list here, but they have sunk thousands of billions of tax payer dollars into the industry anyway as part of their attempt at controling the worlds food supply.
    Other than health issues there is also the matter of super weeds and super bugs that have evolved as natures way of trying to save itself.
    One example is a pigweed in louisiana which used to be small and managable but now is tree-like and impervious to all known herbicides … except DDT which was banned in the 70s.
    Glyphosate which is sold as Roundup, is more harmful to the environment than DDT, but again the gov allows it because of their investments in Monsanto.
    The heads of the USDA, EPA and all the government food departments are ex biotech big-wigs. Mostly Monsanto, who apparently are running the country right now.
    If you are unaware of the dangers of GMOs please do some research, it will save you a lot of health problems in the future.

  27. Sharon says:

    I have stumbled across this wonderful article whilst searching for the answer to America’s obesity problem. I too, have watched Food inc, and it really is shocking what the food industry gets away with in the states while other countires, such as Denmark are thinking about putting a tax on Fat!! (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15137948) I’m not american, but I have lived there for 4 years whilst I was in University and gained 12 pounds for riding my bike as much as I could and cooking my own dinners. After uni, I returned to Hong Kong and lost it all just by eating food that’s not GM.

    I’ve been living in France for 6 months, and can instantly tell the difference between food culture here, and food culture in the US. People in Europe, have a love for fresh, whole foods, are much more health conscious and prepare their foods with utmost care. They have a pride in their cruisine which is lacking in the states. Food labels are clear and never misleading. In HK we get packaged beef adversited as “US cornfed cows!” in gold shiney stickers, as if it were good thing!! Everything in the shops are “organic”. In fact, the supermarket around the corner from mine does not have a organic section – a separate category just doesn’t need to exist as nothing is genetically modified. People enjoy buying food from specialist shops that guarantee the best farm produce. Never, do you see large bulk size packets of chicken breast all exactly the same size- It’s just not natural! Whist in America,people are encouraged to buy in bulk, to super size their food, to grab quick bites at the drive through. Eating out was always the unhealthy choice and portions are definitely, not for the faint hearted.

    My weight never really fluctuates, which is why i was shocked to find that, since I’ve been in France, I’ve lost 7 pounds, despite the increased intake of dairy and cheese. My whole diet changed since being in Paris, and I’ve only been eating good nutritious provincial foods, which is probably the reason why obesity is not a problem here. Food is natural and eaten whole.

    I think the way food is processed in the states need to change, for this problem to improve. Sadly, something tells me that the food giants are gaining too much out of this to put the health of the american people,(of anyone, infact) on their list of proporities. I would be very dissapointed if American GM foods expand and infiltrate europe, which seems to be the direction it’s going in. You might like to read about this here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iSvlZgb3tPJ31vzO9phygZjd5JBw?docId=CNG.2df6f06d0b2d96b0ba00c506a4d565e1.01

  28. [...] what makes America so fat?  Nothing could sum it up better than the following article.  TPP advocates should be aware that most of the causes laid out here will soon be visited on your [...]

  29. Anominous says:

    Hey this is a scam too insult america. I’m American and I’m only 71 pounds at age 12. So I think you should stop stereotyping.

    • Anonymous Spelled Right says:

      I’m an American as well and I believe this article to be fully true. I understand that you are only 12 and may not fully appreciate what goes on in our country. Yes it is a stereotype that American’s are fat, however that doesn’t make it not true. American’s in general are a closed minded set of fat slobs that think the world revolves around us and our governments way of thinking. If you want to break the stereotype that the rest of the world puts on us then start changing peoples perceptions of yourself as an American. Set an example for those around you in school by being active, getting off the couch, playing outside, and being a child. Get your friends outside with you, build forts, ride bikes, skateboard, and stay away from video games. Be an American that cares about people besides yourself and for things other than money and business.
      PS. Spell and capitalize all your words correctly, it makes us look even dumber.

  30. Anthony says:

    I am 180cm. When I got up to 85 kg I realised that things were not looking good for me so I decided to try to lose a few kgs. I cut out most of my snacks and replaced the remaining ones with fruit, yogurt etc. I also reduced the size of my dinner (which I eat late due to my job) by about 50 percent. I didn’t change my other meals at all, same breakfast same lunch, and all home cooked as always. I lost 5kg in the first few months. Then I hit 80kgs and I just couldnt lose anymore. I accepted that maybe I wasnt going to lose anymore weight, and I started to add back in some of the treats that i had cut out (doughnuts, biscuits etc) but only occasionally. Then after I did that another 3kgs dropped off and now I am down to a quite respectable 77kgs. I guess there is some complicated chemestry in action here, but basically, my point is…..

    …everything in moderation.

  31. Scott from the U.S. says:

    I am an overweight American. I am 6’1″ and was 256 pounds. I am down to 225 now and am still going down. My goal is to get to 210 and start working out again. The biggest difference in diet I made was the proportion of meats to vegetables i was eating every day. Instead of mostly meat’ I went down to one serving of meat per day and really ate a lot of vegetables and salads. I also cut the carbs out.

    So, this is all temporary. I have spent the last two weeks in Europe (Paris and Rome) and have a couple of observations / questions in my mind.

    Is there a big difference in the way vegetables and meats are grown / raised / processed between The US and the rest of the world?

    I ask this because I don’t eat fast foods or processed foods. My wife and i cook at home and dont even really eat out at restaurants too often. I am wondering if the answer to my diest is as simple as noteating as much meat, proportionally to vegetabkes as before, OR do I need tobuy all organic?

    I just dont know how much of a difference it really makes… I am starting to think that it makes a big difference.

    • Shawny says:

      Hey Scott,

      Nice to hear about your success thus far!

      To answer your question (although I’m no expert) I would say the biggest differences in Europe vs USA are:

      1) GMO’s are largely banned in Europe. GMO’s in America are being engineered almost exclusively by the corporate giant Monsanto, whose products are not tolerated in most EU countries, due to various health concerns.
      2) Growth hormones are more strictly controlled in Europe. These hormones that are widely used in America(rBST, etc.) are probably affecting the health of Americans.

      I’ve been living in Sweden for the past 4 years, but I believe that in the US you can buy some meats that are manufactured without growth hormones, that aren’t actually “organic” (organic meat is damn expensive!). Maybe Trader Joe’s carries this kind of product? I believe the “organic certification” drives the price of the product up, which is unfortunate.

      By the way, I hope when you say “this is all temporary” that you’re not going to revert back to your normal diet?=)

      • Scott from the U.S. says:

        Thanks for the input, Svara! I am on a quest not to figure this out.

        When I said “this is temporary”, I mean that being in diet mode is temporary. I dont want to lose a lot of weight on a diet only to put it right back on when I am done. That’s why I am trying to figure out what I need to do.

        I am convinced that the answer is not exercise. I say this because over the years, I have run many 10k races, a couple of half marathons and have always stayed otherwise active. I have done strict work out regiments for months at a time and have never been able to really lose weight. Yes, Europeans seem to walk and move a whole lot more than Americans as a whole and that doesn’t hurt, but that is not the biggest reason that they are skinny.

        The answer is in the food.

        Thanl you for your great article!

        • Scott from the U.S. says:

          I just realized that I used “svara” as your name. I feel silly…

          Thanks, Shawny!

        • Anonymous Spelled Right says:

          I don’t think you can completely discount exercise as not being part of weight loss. You need to remember that muscle weighs more than fat so maybe you were losing fat…just not weight. Also don’t forget that you can exercise and still eat poorly and see no effects. I was on a strict workout regimen for 2 months, but I saw no improvement until I changed my diet. That being said, I do agree that you can lose weight without exercise and just by changing what you eat, but you won’t feel more energetic, or necessarily look any better without exercise. Continuing to run and lift weights dramatically increases your metabolism so that you can process the more healthy foods your in taking more efficiently and over a greater period of time, further causing you to lose more weight.

          (just for a benchmark I am 6’3″ 202lbs. I have been working out regularly for 6 months after taking 2 years off after high school. During those 2 years my weight peaked at 225lbs and that was with zero exercise besides occasional walking. Even at 202lbs my BMI still indicates that I am “overweight”. The only reason I say this is that there is always considerable room for improvement even when you reach your target weight. If you say that your goal is to get to 210lbs and your 6’1″ then maybe you should continue working harder once you reach that goal to get down to an athletic 190lbs…imagine what that would do for you 10k time…mine has already improved by 3 min….)

  32. Joe says:

    Hi, I just read your article and want to comment on it. I feel like I can provide some insight as an American.

    1. You’re right about food here in America. I try to cook everything from scratch with whole grains, fresh or frozen fruit/veggies, etc. But it is a difficult lifestyle for a college student like myself.

    I can’t afford natural meats. The only meat you can buy in America that isn’t pumped full of antibiotics, hormones, and harsh cleaning chemicals is expensive “free-range organic” meat.

    So I try to get high quality meat when it is on sale in bulk and freeze the rest.

    2. You’re right on the money with transportation. All of the cities I’ve been in make it nigh impossible to get around on foot. Pedestrian safety is a joke and where I live most streets don’t even have sidewalks.

    3. I can agree with the brainwashed youth. It is a sin to market franken-sugar blobs to kids by putting cartoon characters on them. The vast majority of snack foods marketed to kids in America has every corner of the box covered with advertisements from kid shows.

    5. I would personally blame the American education system. I was taught hardly anything about nutrition in school. Most of what I learned about nutrition came from websites like World’s Healthiest Foods and other health websites.

    There also exist what are called “food deserts” here in America. In a food desert there are no grocery stores within a convenient distance to where you live. So there are children growing up in America who get the vast majority of their meals from school lunches and whatever processed microwavable junk mom can get from the gas station.

    Now, consider that most schools teach nothing about nutrition or cooking and you can see how there are entire generations of Americans who grew up only knowing fast food and processed foods.

    6. I am definitely aware of. When I go out to eat at a fast food restaurant with friends they are shocked when I order the smallest meal combo. I even get the Jr. size burger if I can substitute. The “salads” at our fast food restaurants often have more calories than the burger combos.

    Sometimes my friend will offer to get me breakfast on Saturdays. When we go to the donut shop he’ll be shocked in that I only get a cup of coffee and one donut.

    7. Definitely. What I never understood is why we have public libraries in our cities but not public gyms. I think a nice public gym with a track, weight room, courts, and pool would encourage the populace to exercise more. It sucks that I can check out a book on organic chemistry from the library for free but I have to pay $40 a month for a gym membership.

  33. M says:

    thank you, proved a lot of people wrong. I am actually underweight, but its masked under muscle, so people cant tell I don’t eat. its kind of sad people don’t look out for you either.

  34. Ed says:

    Excellent points. Many I have been aware of for years having an interest in diet and nutrition for well over 40 years.

    The Standard American Diet(SAD) is one of overprocessed, fragmented, chemicalized, GMO ladened, stale and dead in substance. Much is nothing more than colorfully packaged pablum.

    I’m not surprised that there haven’t been more commented post here.
    Possibly many who started to read this were offended or found this material too complicated for their level of education, they gave up and went back to eating which they are good at. Americans are overfed and undernourished.

    “We’ve turned into this nation of overfed clowns, riding around in clown cars, eating clown food, watching clown shows. We’ve become a nation of cringing, craven f*ckups.” James Howard Kunstler, author of “The Long Emergency”

    • Shawny says:

      Thank you for your comment Ed, I really appreciate it. As you stated so well, I was in no way intending to insult or put down Americans, or anyone whose eating habits are less than optimal.

      I guess I wrote this post to try to explain to the world (including America) why so many Americans are overweight. In Europe people joke about it a lot, but I don’t find any of it funny. How is premature aging, diabetes, and early death funny? Beats me. In some developing countries where starvation is widespread, the stomachs of children become engorged due to inflammation when the stomach begins to digest itself. No one is laughing at them (I hope).

      Anyway, the issues are both cultural and political in nature. Nothing is going to change overnight. I believe education is the first step, followed by political and economic reform.


  35. Eddie says:

    GREAT article! I’ve read THE END OF OVEREATING by David Kessler and just finished reading WHEAT BELLY by Wm. Davis. If you are genuinely concerned with your health and your appearance, read these books, please. I used to think people were overweight/obese (two-thirds of America, by the way) simply because of excessive salt, sugar, and fat consumption, but there is the WHEAT factor. If you believe all the literature about “healthy whole grains,” you are being duped by food manufacturers and even by health organizations. Conspiracy!

  36. Hi says:

    That was a really good blog entry. Thank you for the info. Im surprised this didn’t receive more comments.

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