Written by: Horatia Harrod and Fred Mitting
MONDAY, April 16th 2012 (The Windsor Star)—United States (70.8 per cent overweight) A study from Yale University has found five per cent of Americans would rather lose a limb than be obese. The majority, however, don’t appear to have a choice, and the country is becoming increasingly adept at making life comfortable for them.
Boston Emergency Services in 2011 unveiled an ambulance for the obese. Brylane Home offers a large selection of reinforced chairs, and extra-large “Big John” toilet seats. Police officers are now trained to body search obese suspects “up in the folds.”
Australia (63.7 per cent overweight) Royal Adelaide Hospital recently announced a refurbishment to help staff cope with an influx of obese patients: bigger rooms with ceiling mounted lifting apparatus, reinforced wheelchairs and beds, and larger CT-scan machines. Staff are 19 times more likely to strain themselves moving obese patients than others.
Brazil (51.7 per cent overweight) Along with an expanding economy comes expanding waistlines. Brazil is currently on track to be as obese as the U.S. by 2022. Brazilians’ natural sweet tooth certainly doesn’t help – they lather sugar on already-sweet fruits like pineapple, and cafezinho, the national espresso-like coffee, is more sugar than liquid.
China (24.5 per cent overweight) More than 325 million Chinese are now overweight or obese, a figure that could double in the next two decades. Fitness and slimming is a 1.1-billion industry. Sales of weight-loss teas are rising sharply, and traditional Chinese treatments such as acupuncture and fire-cupping are more popular than ever.
Colombia (48.3 per cent overweight) Perhaps the most exercisefriendly country in the world. Every Sunday morning in Bogota, the roads are closed to cars to allow free reign for cyclists, roller bladers and joggers to safely exercise across the 120 kilometres of the ciclovia.
Finland (58 per cent overweight) 72 per cent of the country exercises regularly, helped by a government initiative that awards cash prizes to towns that lose the most weight. The government also encourages shoe companies to make non-slip soles standard so people wouldn’t be deterred from walking in icy weather.
France (50.7 per cent overweight) Contrary to the bestselling book, French women do get fat. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig weight loss centres are signing new members in France in far greater numbers than in other markets.
Jamaica (55.3 per cent overweight) In Jamaican culture, a skinny – or “meagre” – woman is considered unattractive, while heaviness is a sign of social harmony. Which is why many women bulk up with “chicken pills” – chicken feed with appetite-boosting arsenic. Side-effects include diarrhea, dermatitis and cancer.
Malaysia (44.2 per cent overweight) Schoolchildren have had their body mass index printed on their report cards since 2011, to help parents keep track of their children’s weight.
Mauritania (36 per cent overweight) A local saying goes, “The glory of a man is measured by the fatness of his woman.” A third of women over 40 have said they were force-fed as children, to fall into local standards of beauty. The process is called gavage, a French word that describes the fattening up of geese to produce foie gras. A quarter of the 1.5 million women in the country are obese, contrasting sharply with most sub-Saharan countries. Because most Mauritanian love songs describe the ideal woman as fat, the health ministry commissioned catchy odes to thin women.
Mexico (68.1 per cent overweight) Since 1980, the percentage of overweight or obese Mexicans has tripled, and diabetes has become the leading cause of death. In some areas of the country, it’s easier to get a soft drink than a clean glass of water. Mexicans drink the most Coca-Cola per capita in the world. The average Mexican eats 433 lb. of bakery goods per year, compared with 156 lb. of vegetables.
Nauru (94.5 per cent overweight) A small island in the Pacific qualifies as the world’s fattest nation, Nauru’s life expectancy for men is 59 years and for women 64. Phosphate mining, long a source of wealth, has left the island virtually incapable of growing vegetables. So islanders rely on processed western imports – and a lot of them.
Nigeria (26.8 per cent overweight) “Fattening rooms,” where women are encouraged to eat large amounts throughout the day, are popular in Nigeria, especially before weddings.
Qatar (72.3 per cent overweight) Per capita, Qatar is the richest nation on Earth. And it’s fast becoming the fattest. Temperatures of up to 41C make walking – or any outdoor activity – unbearable. Social and family life revolves around five large meals, interspersed with snacks of tea and cake. The final meal of the day comes from McDonald’s – delivered.
Saudi Arabia (69 per cent overweight) Girls are banned from participating in sports in Saudi state schools. One third of women in Saudi Arabia are obese.
Sweden (53.3 per cent overweight) Obesity is on the rise in Sweden, but at a markedly slower rate than in other countries. In fact, the Swedes are now on track to overtake the Swiss as Europe’s slimmest people, thanks to a recent craze for high-fat, low-carb dieting.
Tonga (90.8 per cent overweight) Poor health and obesity are blamed on imported food. Tonga’s late king, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, who died in 2006, was once the world’s heaviest monarch, weighing 440 lb. In his 70s he took up bicycle rides around the island and lost 154 lb.
UAE (68.3 per cent overweight) When the UAE football team failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, defender Saleh Obaid blamed the team’s addiction to fast food.
U.K. (64.2 per cent overweight) Despite a government campaign, obesity in the U.K. is getting worse. If current trends continue, 90 per cent of British children will be obese by 2050.
Zimbabwe (25.5 per cent overweight) The government’s Obesity Tourism Strategy: As Zimbabweans starve, overweight tourists would be encouraged to visit the country and work on farms seized from white farmers, losing weight in the process.
. $142 billion: Amount Americans spend on fast food each year
. Europe’s laziest? Greece and Italy – only three per cent exercise regularly
. £37 million: Spent annually on unused gym subscriptions in Britain
. Coca-Cola is sold in every country in the world, except for North Korea
. Most fattening national dish: Poutine, a Canadian side dish of fries, cheese and gravy. 1,500 calories
PROOF PORTIONS ARE GROWING
A team from Cornell University studied 52 paintings of the Last Supper made over the past 1,000 years and established that over that time, the size of the meal depicted had grown by 69 per cent; bread size alone grew by about 23 per cent. “We think that as art imitates life, these changes have been reflected in paintings of history’s most famous dinner,” said research leader Professor Brian Wansink.