It always pisses me off when Swedes joke about how fat Americans are. ”Bacon ice cream” is one of their ”funniest” jokes.
[photo By Eric Scala]
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/thesis/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) :
The government pays out huge subsidies for the production of:
- Corn (GMO)
- Soybeans (GMO)
- Sugar / Sugar Beets (GMO)
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.
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 littleto do with counting calories. It’s more about changing what you eat, as well as making lifestyle changes. The Diet Solution Program has some good information to offer in this subject area.