A couple of years ago we received a visit from one of our partners in the Netherlands. It was her first visit to the US and we decided to show her around Salt Lake City. You probably don't know it, but Salt Lake was recently voted the fittest city in the US. Our access to the mountains and beautiful parks keeps our population fit and healthy. However, when I asked this associate what her thoughts on America were, she hesitated for a while before being brave enough to speak the truth:
"Everything they say about America is true...big roads, big buildings, big vehicles, big food portions, BIG PEOPLE..."
I looked around at my beautiful city with the eye of an outsider and realized that she was absolutely correct. Our roads are much wider than European roads, our four-wheel drive vehicles that can drive through the snow are huge compared to the compact smart cars, and our gigantic food portions lead to big people. I didn't know what to stay to her other than a very professional "yep...".
As I've traveled more I have thought about the differences in our culture that perpetuate the obesity problem. When you order food and drink in a restaurant in Sweden or Italy, the portion sizes are much smaller than what you will find in the US. Doggie bags don't exist because there is no extra food to take home. If you order a coke? Well, you will get a can of coke with no refills. Can you imagine how much of a difference this would make to our society? No refills? How many calories do you think the average American consumes in soda alone during a meal?
Unfortunately, our society is not following the example set by Europe or anywhere else. In fact, in speaking with various contacts around the world I have been told countless times that more and more restaurants are trying to follow the American example of larger portions, more fried food, and unlimited soda. How terrifying is this thought? I know that America is the champion of the Obesity epidemic, but how awful is it that we are spreading this to the rest of the world?
I want it to stop. I want us to break the cycle. We as individuals deserve more. We deserve the right to a long healthy life filled with smart food and exercise choices. We deserve the right to raise our kids in a society where healthy is the norm, not the exception. Did you know that in Mississippi 22% of our children are OBESE? Not overweight, but obese. I can't imagine how much pain and suffering those kids are going through because of being heavy. My heart breaks for them. I don't want my kids to have to suffer through the pain and humiliation that comes with being overweight. For a society that is filled with heavy people, we have no tolerance for it.
This is partly why I started my weight loss journey. I want a better world for my future children. If I don't make the right choices and learn to eat healthy and make exercise a part of my daily life, my children won't. I can stop the cycle and give the next generation a fighting chance by doing my part.
Will you join me?
Please check out this article released in June of this year that breaks down obesity rates by state. It is eye-opening and worth spending some time reviewing. Let's change the American Stereotype into something different and better.
For any of my international readers--what are your thoughts on this? Have you noticed it as well?