Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby Xenops » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:41 pm

Iversen wrote:What a weird thread!

Well, I figured if I'm looking to move to Europe eventually, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". A factor of blending in the community is to look like them, and eat like them. ;)
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby Tillumadoguenirurm » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:20 pm

Acting like a Roman usually gets people into trouble. ;)

There is plenty of obesity in Europe as well, but maybe it depends more on where you go?
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby William Camden » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:50 am

I read somewhere that dinner plate sizes are larger than they used to be, both in Europe and the USA, and this may a factor in people eating more. I found Turks to be thinner than West Europeans, despite an oily diet comprising quite a lot of bread, pasta and other fattening stuff. Turkish/Kurdish people I know, even living in Europe, tend to eat cooked meals, not pre-packaged ones, and perhaps that is better for the waistline.
A minor historical note: I noticed photos of longtime Albanian leader Enver Hoxha. In 1947 he looked quite chunky, but was significantly thinner in photos taken in 1949. The answer may be that he was diagnosed with diabetes c. 1948, and either the illness or efforts to control it had resulted in him losing weight.
But Iversen is right - this is a rather odd thread.
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby blaurebell » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:25 am

There are quite significant differences among different European countries. During every doctor's visit in England I was told that I was underweight and needed to gain weight, but I wasn't skinny at the time. One of my Japanese flatmates was considered "chubby" by Japanese standards and English doctors told her to gain weight too! She was neither chubby nor skinny in my eyes! I had problems finding clothes in England too, I actually had to find my trousers in Germany because they just never had my size.

Right now I'm actually in a situation where I can't gain weight because of a diet I need to follow due to various health problems - a variation of the paleo diet. It's incredibly difficult to gain weight on a diet that cuts out all processed food and sugar, and reduces starch to the bare minimum (pumpkin yes, potatoes no). Basically when you eat only "real food" - Meat, fish, fruit, veg, eggs - it's almost impossible to be overweight unless your hormones are shot or you eat a packet of nuts every day. And that kind of diet is basically the opposite of the standard american diet with mostly processed ready meals and double to triple the amount of sugar in desserts and soft drinks. When my dad used to exchange cake recipes with his American friends he always cut the sugar by at least half, otherwise it was inedible for our European tastes!

The English diet is closer to the American diet and consists of a lot of ready meals and "cooking" usually means to put some ready meal in the oven. It was rather practical for me while I had English flatmates, because I was the only one who really used the kitchen. English cooking is actually known in the rest of Europe for being particularly bad. During language school trips in my teenage years I was served the most atrocious things by host families, apart from the one time I was really lucky and had a chef as the host father :D

By the way, even within one country there can be a noticeable difference. When I moved from East Germany to West Germany everyone seemed fat to me in the beginning. They eat at restaurants and Turkish fast food places a lot more there due to longer commutes. Compared to England vs Germany the difference is negligible though. Spain and Germany is roughly the same, people cook a lot here as well, probably more than in Germany actually.

In Eastern European countries there is usually an age difference. Young people tend to be slender and then fill out a lot when they are older. The women from the village where my mum grew up used to tell her to "finally find a man and gain some weight". They eat a lot of heavy foods with lots of starch, lots of meat and cook with a lot of oil too. Vegetables other than root vegetables seem to be an afterthought and aren't always available depending on the season.

So, even though Europeans are generally thinner, there is quite some variety among the diets. Germans eat a lot of dark bread and variations of meat / sausage, Italians a lot of pasta and pizza, English people ready meals and Indian food, Spanish people more fish, meat and fresh produce, Eastern Europeans potatoes and meat. You first have to pick a country to "do as the Romans do".

I don't find this thread so weird. What people eat has a huge impact on the culture, the times of the day when they eat and so on. One example: Spanish people tend to eat a heavy meal at lunch time and then lie down to sleep a siesta. This means that from 1.30pm - 5pm any Spanish town will be dead and most shops are closed. The climate usually also means that people come out onto the street mostly in the evening and stay out with their kids until late at night, especially in summer. You will see kids on the street until 11 or 12, sometimes even later. In Germany people send their kids to bed really early and when you keep your kid up and outside beyond 9pm random strangers might shout at you for mistreating your children! The whole rhythm of life is different and it took me about 2 years to adjust to it.
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby tastyonions » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:27 am

One factor: Americans consume a lot of foods that are calorie-dense without producing much satiety. Some of the worst offenders are chips (crisps), sugary drinks, white bread products, and candy. Mexico is the same in this respect while being different in many others and has a similar obesity rate.
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby Ingaræð » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:54 am

blaurebell wrote:There are quite significant differences among different European countries. During every doctor's visit in England I was told that I was underweight and needed to gain weight, but I wasn't skinny at the time. One of my Japanese flatmates was considered "chubby" by Japanese standards and English doctors told her to gain weight too! She was neither chubby nor skinny in my eyes! I had problems finding clothes in England too, I actually had to find my trousers in Germany because they just never had my size.

I think I might have an explanation for this...

For decades, British doctors used height vs. weight to determine whether someone was over-/underweight, then they switched to using BMI. Maybe 5 years ago (I'm not sure exactly), the NHS shifted the BMI boundaries up, so overnight some people went from overweight to 'large' healthy, and from 'slim' healthy to underweight. I'd never had a medical professional tell me I was underweight prior to that.

I don't know why they shifted the classification boundaries. Maybe it was to keep in line with the WHO. A cynic might think that, with an increasingly obese population, a cash-/resource-strapped NHS is no longer required to 'treat' a group of people...
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby Chung » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:57 am

For me the large portions and popularity of soft drinks and snacks (chips or cookies) in the USA compared to Europe make the most difference. Depending on where you live, physical activity is part of it too, although plenty of rural Americans are fat despite some of them making a living on the land. If you have a car, and with the distances some of us travel daily, sitting behind the wheel doesn't help our waistlines either.

...and the obligatory SATW reference.

Humon wrote:America just wants his friends to be well fed and happy. Image

I'll never forget the first time I went to an American restaurant. I had never seen so much food on one plate in my life, and it haunts me to this day.
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby outcast » Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:02 am

No doubt European diet, lifestyle, and portions are much healthier than in North America. But it could also be that height helps: Europeans are taller than Americans, and from the latest measurements even southern Europeans are now the same average height as Americans. I mean I've heard say that women in the Dutch north coast towns on AVERAGE are 1.75m tall, which means 50% are taller than this, which I find hard to believe, but who knows.

A few inches does wonders to hide the extra kilos, and even if you are fat for whatever height you are, the taller you are, the less "fat" you will appear (i.e. round, for lack of a better word).

So I think all the above conspire and the sad reality is people in the USA are super heavy. Living 2 years in Asia made me see that, even if also the Asian frame is not applicable to most caucasian body plans.
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby aokoye » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:18 am

Xenops wrote:It is cheaper to make food from scratch, but I'm one of those rare people that do cook from scratch: most Americans, due to time constraints or laziness, or maybe just a lack of knowledge of how to cook, almost always buy pre-made meals, and cereal.

I wouldn't put it down to laziness. I would also take a look at the interrelated issues of SES, race (especially as it relates to segregation), and food deserts. The last point is especially important when deciding whether or not cooking something from scratch (or by the same measure, buying produce) is cheaper than a ready made meal (or chips).
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Re: Why Are Europeans Thinner than Americans?

Postby smallwhite » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:24 am

I don't think eating out is the main problem. I believe we eat out in Hong Kong more than most countries.

I don't think portion size is the main problem. The Australian take-away box is half the size of HK's, but Australians are twice our size. I need to eat 2 dishes/boxes of rice or noodles for lunch, and they eat just a salad or a sandwich :shock:

I had no tummy when I used to go window- or grocery-shopping for 30 to 120 minutes after my main meal of the day. But ever since I started learning languages :lol: I read after and between every meal and have a tummy. I still walk sometimes but not necessarily right after meal. So I think the tummy and visceral fat has a lot to do with what you do right after your main meal at least.

Australian cakes and sweets probably have 3 to 5 times the sugar compared to HK. I have a very sweet tooth by HK standards, sweeter than anyone I know, and I find Australian sweets either deliciously sweet, bit too sweet or unbearably sweet. I actualy meant to start a thread here to ask: Why is Aussie yoghurt now so sweet that I'm eating it like it were ice-cream? What happened to good ol' yoghurt that was sour and that my Chinese parents couldn't stand?
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