5 Sneaky Ways American Culture Is Making You Fat
While the lower house of parliament in France has passed a law to prevent thinness, the United States on the other hand, is a surprising contrast in culture, as 2 out of 3 adults in America are obese and the US is much more concerned about overweight than underweight. The difference is because of the cultural differences of the two countries. The trend of being overweight in America has now attacked its youth, with 1 out of 3 children born in or after 2000 projected to develop type-2 diabetes during their lifetime.
So what is in American culture that is making you fat? Let’s check it out:
• Access to food
According to Marion Nestle, Ph.D., author of What to Eat, the average American is exposed to 3,900 calories per day through advertisements on TV, radio, and other places. It is evident that the more we see food, the more we feel the urge to eat it. Everywhere we go we find advertisements urging us to eat, eat, and eat some more.
Estimates show that Americans make around 250 food-related decisions every day, and unfortunately most of them are unhealthy. This is often because the places we go, work and school, are filled with food advertisements, mostly for fast food, a large part of standard American fare high in additives, calories, saturated fats, and preservatives. Fast food is available everywhere, from schools to universities, zoos to stadiums, airports, shopping malls, any place you can think of, making access to unhealthy food much easier. Eating popcorn in theaters is a tradition and people often do it just for the sake of tradition more than actually wanting it. So what we can do? We can turn this culture to our advantage by making healthier food advertisements more visible so that we crave healthier food and stay healthy.
• Drinks that increase the waistline
The role of drinks in weight gain has gained a new perspective after recent news coverage because New York Mayor Bloomberg has recently passed an initiative to ban the sale of 32 ounce beverages with some exceptions. The sugar element in some drinks is so high that they are the source of 20% of Americans daily sugar consumption. Many of us ignore the calorie factor when drinking beverages, Lisa Young, R.D., Ph.D., author of The Portion Teller, believes that when driving we ignore portions and we can drink 500 calories in less than 10 minutes without realizing it. We can also blame the increasing large cup holders in cars for increased consumption of sugar-filled beverages as they make it easier to transport drinks. Try water or unsweetened tea on road trips and with meals.
• Technology can be a curse
Technology is partially responsible for the increased variety of advertisements that tempt you and making the tempting items so easy to get. Have you heard stories from your grandparents about having to walk everywhere or do a lot of hard work to put food on the table? Today you just have to go to the store using your car, even for a 10 minute walk. Everything is so readily available that you don’t have to move much at all. We don’t move our bodies as much as required to stay fit and slim which leads to excess fat. Stairs have been replaced by elevators, walking by driving, markets by malls, and so on. Youngsters stick more to gadgets than nature or outdoor activities. What else can you expect from this?
• Portion control
Not only have drink portions increased, but also that of snacks and foods. The size of French fries and hamburgers are much bigger than they should be. In certain areas of the United States the smallest size fries on the menu at Burger King is a medium, although they do actually have a small. So what should you do? Don’t hesitate to ask for small portions, if they only offer a large then ask them to serve you half of it or share with someone else. Ordering a small size will save you calories, money, and of course, inches.
• Mindless eating
We often eat whether we are hungry or not. Almost everyone has the habit of sitting in front of a TV with a bowl filled with snacks. Do you really realize how much you are eating? You just munch without realizing when you’re full or even whether or not you’re hungry. Anything that takes your focus away from food while eating is exposing you to mindless eating. Be aware of that and try to be more mindful.