Whenever I travel overseas or meet friendly travelers with in the United States, I like to investigate what perceptions others outside of the U.S. have about Americans. One of the biggest is that we’re fat. So that always leads me to the question, “Why do you think Americans are fat?”. Below are some of the most common and one of the most interesting responses I’ve received.
Your food and/or meat is loaded with hormones
I’ve had several people I’ve asked respond with some rendition of this. They especially point to the injections we put into meat.
You eat too many processed foods
After getting this from a friend from Italy, I asked her “What’s the least expensive type of food you can buy at the grocery store?”. She replied, “Fruits and vegetables.” I compared that to the U.S., where junk food (soda, chips, etc.) are the least expensive food options.
We walk everywhere, you don’t
What amazed me was how many social activities, when I’m in Europe, were physical-based. “Let’s go for a hike!” someone would say. In contrast, in the U.S., it’s almost always “Let’s go for a drink!” or “Let’s go for food!”.
We take time and enjoy our food
I remember a Spanish roommate of mine laughing about drive-throughs at fast food restaurants. He’d never seen them before coming the U.S. and remarked that they would probably never catch on in Spain because people there like to sit down and enjoy their food. It’s not uncommon for dinner to be 2 hours long in Europe and you don’t feel rushed by the wait staff to hurry up.
It’s not socially acceptable to be fat
I only received this response once, but I found it by far the most interesting. I was in Germany and the man who said it was a friend of a friend. He went on to explain that, in Germany, it’s simply not socially acceptable to be fat. He pointed to a bit of fat around his belly (about 15 lbs I’d guess) and told me that he had already reached the socially acceptable limit and was getting significant pressure from family/friends to lose the weight.
This might explain, while I was shopping with friends, that I never saw any “plus size” clothing or “big and tall” shops in Europe. Personally, while I was in Italy, I was a size 4-6, but in Rome? That was a medium, not a small.
There’s so much sugar in your food
Agreed! One of my favorite things about going overseas or eating non-American food is the limited sugar, even in desserts.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend watching the documentary Fed Up. I don’t agree with everything they say, but I do agree with most of it.
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