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DamonX
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 9:08:53 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 1/25/2009
Posts: 795
Quote:
The World Health Organization has recently released the results of health surveys taken between 2000 and 2008 on world obesity, and the news isn’t pretty.

Since obesity rates can be an indicator of a nation’s nutritional trends, health and culture, we thought it might be useful information for the expat to know. Here are the 10 fattest countries of the last decade:

(1) American Samoa, 93.5% (of the population that is overweight)
It’s a staggering number. Many Pacific Island nations have had trouble with weight in modern times mostly because they have abandoned their traditional foods for cheap, easily attained processed foods from the West. Perhaps no other Pacific Island has had such access to these habits as American Samoa.

(2) Kiribati, 81.5%
Like American Samoa, Kiribati has been flooded with processed foods like Spam and mutton flaps (fatty sheep scraps), often sold at lower prices than native food.

(3) U.S.A., 66.7%
Well, the U.S.A. doesn’t top the list, but it’s close, and it falls behind only a small islands nation and one of its own unincorporated territories. The United States of Processed food, high fructose corn syrup and fast food has been high on this list over the last half century.

(4) Germany, 66.5%
The fattest country in Europe no doubt owes their portly woes to lots of beer, fatty foods and inactivity.

(5) Egypt, 66%
Obesity among Egyptian women is particularly high, often attributed to cultural taboos on women exercising or playing sports.

(6) Bosnia-Herzegovina, 62.9%
Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, obesity is dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina, where smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy foods spiked during the war that ravaged the country from 1992 to 1995.

(7) New Zealand, 62.7%
Obesity is a growing concern for New Zealand. While its native Maori have struggled with weight due to loss of traditional culture like other Pacific Islanders– they are mostly just a scapegoat. New Zealand’s entire population is getting fatter at a rapidly increased rate.

(8) Israel, 61.9%
In the past 30 years, the number of obese Israelis has tripled, evidence the country is truly part of the Western world.

(9) Croatia, 61.4%
Croatia, where cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, is also a victim of the globalization of the food market, which tends to suppress traditional diets as cheaper processed foods from the U.S. and Europe flood store shelves.

(10) United Kingdom, 61%
A recent survey ranked Brits among the bottom third of European nations in physical exercise, leading Health Secretary Andy Burnham to comment, “We’re really in danger of being known as the best in the world for watching sport, but one of the worst for getting out there and doing it for ourselves.”
MrNudiePants
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 6:58:14 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 8/10/2009
Posts: 2,140
Location: United States
Some interesting correlations here:

Obesity: the emerging cost of economic prosperity


Quote:
Western countries are experiencing an epidemic of obesity and face increasing rates of related complications, including diabetes mellitus, elevated lipid levels and hypertension.


Quote:
Jafar and colleagues also examined the determinants of obesity using a number of social variables, such as rural and urban dwelling, literacy and economic status, as well as some clinical and lifestyle factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose concentrations, dietary intake and smoking status. Although the direction of association between these factors and outcomes cannot be discerned owing to the cross-sectional study design, some important insights are apparent. The strongest predictors of overweight and obesity were societal factors, including urban living (odds ratio 2.20) and high economic status (odds ratio 1.56). These factors raise the possibility that solutions required to reverse the rising prevalence of obesity must include societal reorganization, which would ultimately lead to decreased energy intake and increased energy expenditure by individuals.




Quote:
Reliance on energy-saving devices such as cars and on sedentary behaviours such as television viewing and computer use increases with urban living and increasing socioeconomic status. Even though individuals who take on intensive and regular physical exercise may prevent weight gain, this lifestyle formula is not an effective solution for entire populations, since it requires a strong and long-term personal commitment in order to resist the powerful societal forces that promote obesity. Solutions that reach a large number of people are required and, before they can be implemented on a large scale, must be evaluated rigorously to ensure their effectiveness. Proposed changes to the structural environment, such as increasing street connectivity, adding bicycle paths, increasing public transportation, changing neighbourhood design to encourage walking and addressing safety concerns of parents for children, as a well as changes to the supply, pricing and availability of foods, have the potential of being among the most effective “mass solutions” to the problem.



Dancing_Doll
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 8:09:29 AM

Rank: Alpha Blonde

Joined: 2/17/2010
Posts: 6,228
Location: West Coast
Interesting info Nudie.

I find it somewhat amusing that the focus is on changing social factors and devising all these infrastructure "solutions".

The solution is the same that it's always been... in layman's terms... "Eat less, exercise more".

It seems easy to blame all these external factors on rising obesity, but in the end we are all responsible for our own health when it comes to our BMI.

I think the tendency to rely on fast-food (and unhealthy foods) because they are cheap and require no effort to prepare, is one driving social factor among socioeconomic groups that are working more, and still not making financial ends meet. But in the end, it still comes down to choice if you care enough about it. With the financial load of type 2 diabetes and its associated health conditions, it still amazes me that this alone, is not working as a deterrent... especially since we all know that in the early stages of diabetes, you can dramatically slow the progression of the disease using diet and lifestyle modifications, and even pull your numbers back into the normal range.

I think it's become more socially acceptable in more recent years to blame everything going wrong in our lives on external factors instead of taking responsibility for our own health, success and happiness.


sprite
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 9:21:04 AM

Rank: Her Royal Spriteness

Joined: 6/18/2010
Posts: 14,412
Location: My Tower, United States
In something related to this; i find it sad that there are actually television commercials urging kids to go outside and play an hour a day. really, have we gotten to the point where everyone sits around in front of the TV, Playstation, Computer, etc so much so that they need to be urged to go outside for a whole 60 minutes? as i kid my parents were always urging us to go outside and play, even if it was just throwing a ball back and forth in the back yard or skipping rope or riding bikes.

http://www.lushstories.com/stories/hardcore/west-coast-games-part-one-the-beach.aspx
mercianknight
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 9:43:38 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 8/11/2009
Posts: 2,029
Location: whispering conspiratorially in your ear, Bermuda
I'm not a health nut - I love my meat, bread and chips (fries), but as DD so eloquently put it, I choose not to over-indulge. Also, I still "enjoy" being active, whether it be playing squash, gardening, DIY, walking the dog or, my fave, sex. I don't consider it 'hard work' to be active, however, I am positive some of the purists would comment that I could do more, get fitter, etc.

On the plus side for the USA, from a purely selfish perspective, I think it's great that people like me can go out to eat when visiting the States and be satiated by sharing an item from the 'appetizer' menu. I'm not cheap, it's just that the portions are so darned huge!!

And finally, is obesity a generational issue or the next big human killer 'disease'? The debate rages on, however, I am loath to think of obesity as a disease when we can make the choice.

"Whoa, lady, I only speak two languages, English and bad English." - Korben Dallas, from The Fifth Element

"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience?" - George Bernard Shaw
WellMadeMale
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:54:34 PM

Rank: Constant Gardener

Joined: 9/30/2009
Posts: 10,281
Location: Cakeland, United States
sprite wrote:
as i kid my parents were always urging us to go outside and play, even if it was just throwing a ball back and forth in the back yard or skipping rope or riding bikes.


I remember my mother, standing on the inlaid brick patio my father created just outside my 'rents backdoor, yelling at the top of her lungs, 20 minutes after the Sun had dropped below the western horizon...for her three sons to get their asses into our house.

"Get in the tub and make it quick, your brothers need to bathe also!"

"But, Mom...there is still sunlight outside."

"And tomorrow is another day."

If ya can't beat 'em... pay someone to do it for you.
MrNudiePants
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 1:02:17 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 8/10/2009
Posts: 2,140
Location: United States
WellMadeMale wrote:
sprite wrote:
as i kid my parents were always urging us to go outside and play, even if it was just throwing a ball back and forth in the back yard or skipping rope or riding bikes.


I remember my mother, standing on the inlaid brick patio my father created just outside my 'rents backdoor, yelling at the top of her lungs, 20 minutes after the Sun had dropped below the western horizon...for her three sons to get their asses into our house.

"Get in the tub and make it quick, your brothers need to bathe also!"

"But, Mom...there is still sunlight outside."

"And tomorrow is another day."


I blame indoor air conditioning. Seriously. We never had air conditioning -- we spent our summer days outdoors in self-defense against heatstroke. Plus, we only had two and a half channels of television, and no internet. Why stay indoors where there's nothing to do except slowly roast? Outlaw air conditioning. See how fast the little buggers hit the door then.

SweetPenny
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:33:47 PM

Rank: Moderator

Joined: 6/15/2010
Posts: 1,271
Location: State of Confusion
Food For Thought: A cardiologist in my neighborhood once said, "Did you ever notice that there are no really old people who are fat?"
DamonX
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 6:52:06 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 1/25/2009
Posts: 795
MrNudiePants wrote:
WellMadeMale wrote:
sprite wrote:
as i kid my parents were always urging us to go outside and play, even if it was just throwing a ball back and forth in the back yard or skipping rope or riding bikes.


I remember my mother, standing on the inlaid brick patio my father created just outside my 'rents backdoor, yelling at the top of her lungs, 20 minutes after the Sun had dropped below the western horizon...for her three sons to get their asses into our house.

"Get in the tub and make it quick, your brothers need to bathe also!"

"But, Mom...there is still sunlight outside."

"And tomorrow is another day."


I blame indoor air conditioning. Seriously. We never had air conditioning -- we spent our summer days outdoors in self-defense against heatstroke. Plus, we only had two and a half channels of television, and no internet. Why stay indoors where there's nothing to do except slowly roast? Outlaw air conditioning. See how fast the little buggers hit the door then.


That sounds similar to my childhood as well. I literally had two and half channels (on a black and white TV, no less). We never had air conditioning. I used to sleep outside in my tree fort with bats zipping past my face all night.

I think I still spent quite a bit of time watching TV though...I just watched shittier TV, and had to keep flipping the channel back and forth for one of them to come in (Yes I hd a turn-dial TV knob). If we are looking for reasons behind this increase in obesity, I think blaming the internet and harkoning back to "the good ol' days" is a bit of a cop out.

We know more about nutrition than ever before, but yet the average American still consumes over 4000 calories a day. 4000 calories! And ya know what? Nobody cares. If you mention such taboo subjects as "low fat" or "low calorie", a person is likely to turn up his nose in disgust and turn back to his platter of ribs and chili-cheese fries. And those that even bother to take nutrition seriously, tend to succumb to the mass media influx of propaganda and fad-induced fantasy concerning such inconsequential factors as omega-fatty acid levels or anti-oxidants. Oh, yeah...its ok that you just scarfed down 5000 calores worth of pizza! Just have a few blueberries and pay twice the price for (high omega FA) eggs and everthing will be ok!

People need to take responsibility and start getting their health information from some source that is a little more reliable than the latest issue of cosmo or a "ground breaking expose" on the the evening news.

And fucking eat less! There is no big secret. No special supplement or 7 minute ab solution. Just eat fewer fucking calories!

And let's not blame it on technology or economy. Japan is one of the most technologically advanced and economically powerful nations on earth. They also have one of the healthiest populations, longest life expectancies and lowest incdences of obesity. They also have the lowest caloric intake of any other developed nation. Coincidence? I think not. Aside from their apparent penchant for cartoon kitty-cats, I really think the Japanese have got it mostly figured out.

Nor should we blame it all on the young'ans with A/C and playstation 3. Its the middle agers that have the highest rates of obesity. Maybe they should start taking responsibility for setting the trends that have lead to our current situation....? Not only are the baby-boomers the fattest demgraphic, but they have been getting progressively fatter over the last ten years. Maybe its the lazy 55 year olds that are spending more time indoors with the video games and air conditioning?

North Americans (well, those that live east of the Rockies anyways...zing! :)) have an obsession with overconsumption that needs be be drilled out of their heads before this continent sinks into the ocean under the enormous weight of our pork rind-stricken adipose tissues and Big-Gulp filled bellies.



rxtales
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:34:31 PM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 11/28/2008
Posts: 2,589
Location: Newcastle, United Kingdom
Education is important in reducing obesity.

When I was in South America I wasn't too shocked by how over weight people were (the traditional diets in a lot of places aren't too healthy) but was so shocked by how many people were diabetics. A lot of pre packaged goods are coming into the country that were not available a couple of decades ago. They are convenient and cheap. In a lot of areas where people are uneducated and don't have a huge amount of access to the "outside world" they just didn't realised that crisps and chocolate bars were not healthy.

I was talking to my Malay friend the other day. He grew up in Australia where he ate a lot of fast food, but was shocked when he moved back to Kuala Lumpur and gained a bunch of weight. It's because the traditional food is oily and mostly carbs. People never cook because food is so cheap and always around. Food stalls are open 24/7 and it takes seconds to get food.

Also people don't understand exercise. When I was in South/Central America I would go for my daily run and there were occasions people thought I was running from something and would stop me to see if I was okay. It was hard for a lot of people to understand that I was running to keep healthy.
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