The U.S. has an obesity problem, and the world is aware of it. But it turns out that knowing Americans are large and seeing it are two totally different things. Americans took to the internet to share their impressions of the fat American stereotype after a foreigner called it out.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
How on Earth?
“I thought the stereotype that says Americans are fat was just exaggerated by the media until I moved here,” comments a foreigner living in Texas. It baffles them how “20% of people I meet outside are two times wider than me.” They question why Americans would do that to themselves, knowing they could pass away at the hands of cancer or heart disease.
Not all parts of the U.S. have the same obesity rates, argues one commenter. A foreigner who visits Texas may have a wildly different view of obesity in America than one who only spends time in southern California.
The Big Picture
Lifestyle and geography are the biggest culprits that explain why Americans are so large, according to one commenter. They say, “In most of Europe, everything is [within] walking distance, and people walk a lot more. Also, food culture is more healthy there.”
Food Says Who
An American describes the food in the Land of the Free as “horrific” and worsening. “The artificial flavors, colors, the chemicals, the additives, etc. are insane, and much much much more present and widely accepted as normal compared to other countries.”
Being raised on frozen meals, processed food, and sweets is common in the U.S., says one American. They describe it as being hard for adults to adjust their diet after a childhood of being raised with a lack of portion and quality control.
Sugar Addiction Is Real
“Sugar is like in everything,” says an American in response to the parenting comment. “When you grow up, you’re too tired from working all the time to break the habit.”
Try the Veggie Soup
A foreigner adds to the sugar conversation by saying that vegetable soup is the funniest food item to them in the U.S. “It takes a really amazingly unhealthy culture to somehow turn vegetable soup into a calorie bomb.”
The U.S. is designed for cars, says a frustrated commenter. They believe this, coupled with the convenience and low cost of fast food, is what causes obesity to be so widespread in the U.S.
From a Fat Expat
A self-proclaimed fat American living in Europe argues that “it’s the food, living conditions, and lack of medical care” that causes obesity in the U.S. They blame corn syrup, sugar, and long work hours. “Being able to go to the gym or have time to exercise is very much a privilege to many.”
“I don’t think people from other countries understand that there are plenty of other factors that contribute to obesity and health issues aside from eating,” says an American. They cite food not being as regulated as other places as being a reason and healthy food options not accessible to everyone. Plus, the term “gym rat” is just now a trending topic.
“If you want to feel sad,” says an American, “dive into food desserts and long-term price differences between convenient, unhealthy food and healthy stuff like nuts, veggies, etc.” Being healthy costs a pretty penny.
A Math Problem
Here’s the obesity culprit to one person: Americans “don’t understand how many calories they’re eating every day.” Couple that with huge portions, and you’ve got yourself an overweight society.
Keeping Us Fat
One American argues that getting out of the obesity cycle is nearly impossible. “Our foods are filled with sugar, fat, corn, carbs, and corn syrup to keep us fat and unhealthy.”
Don’t Forget Trauma
Being overweight isn’t always about the food, argues an American. “Have you ever watched my 600lb Life?” They explain how the reality TV show does “a good job showing how trauma enhances or helps create food addictions.”
Unhealthy Is Easy
A parent says teaching their kids to make healthy choices is a constant battle, but one worth doing since being “unhealthy is so easy.” They work out five times per week to set an example. The result? Their kids “pick fruits over candy sometimes.”
Overeating junk food isn’t the only way to gain weight, reminds one commenter. “Poor health and many medications also cause weight gain.”
Companies take advantage of making fast food addictive, says a frustrated American. They also point out that “we were all lied to about what a good diet is with the food pyramid.”
Privatized Health Care
“Why make healthy food accessible and cheap when you need sick people?” asks one person. If all Americans ate healthy, they’d lose out on big profits.
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