55 Comments
founding

Having lived in both the US and Europe, I feel pretty confident that it comes down to:

-- more unhealthy food consumption

-- more driving, less walking

Miles driven per person data could surely be obtained. Maybe there is also data by country for calories per person?

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As a New Zealander, a big factor - excuse the pun - for us being up the fat list is that notable size of our population being Polynesian or Maori. Here's the Ministry of Health Statistics NZ: "...71.3% of Pacific, 50.8% of Māori, 31.9% of European/Other and 18.5% of Asian adults [are] obese." (Pacific = Polynesians and Micronesians).

Auckland, our biggest city, also is largest Polynesian city by population in the world. Combine the cultural factor of Polynesians finding larger woman attractive (or at least as having status) with fast-food, and ya get obese Polynesians clogging up our health system. All it's due to racism of course though. That's what we're told at school.

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founding

More snacking? More super-caloric drinks? Does alcohol consumption play any role? Portion size? Caloric density of the food?

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"It cannot be genetics because Anglos are extremely closely related to the Dutch, Danes and French from which they recently were made out of."

And yet the Dutch are supposedly like 1 SD taller than Anglos?

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As a German having lived in the US and now living in the UK I would put it down to the prevalence of ready meals and hyper processed foods and an increasing inability to cook anything with basic ingredients.

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Sep 8·edited Sep 8

This is not really that hard to explain.

In North America, seed oil, starches, vegetable oils, HFCS and glucose-derivatives are the main component

of every single food, whether its cookies, beverages, snacks, drinks, pop, etc.

These are all non-satiating foods that also promote more eating.

Furthermore, the portion sizes of NA is almost 2-3x to that of Asians and 20-35% more than Europe. Just look at

restaurants.

There is more sugar and oil.

In asia, nearly every single meal is self-contained within 600-800 calories with

a rice bowl or two, and fresh meat, vegetables, broths, soups, fermented foods or whatnot;

with spices, additives and other things that enhance the flavour without adding calories.

Another factor is the caloric density and satiety of foods is more scaled towards

the lower end for the former, and higher for the latter. With a higher protein proportion

intake to other macronutrients, contributing to a 10-25% thermic effect on calories expended

to digest. Not to mention the volume of food eating fruits, vegetables, etc, broths

that are mostly water content that helps increase satiety. And depending on the social class

you are in, in Asia, you also expend another 400-1,500 calories per day on physical labour,

or walking. Food is also close without cars being required to get to places.

In africa, there's just simply no food besides maybe oats, dirt or whatever --

the obese mostly nips on excess calories. In Europe, it's a bit more complex --

the cuisine is similar to NA but the portions are smaller and they are more adamant about

not adding excessive additives or banning certain substances that may decrease satiety/increase

hunger pangs/make you want to crave more oily/sugary foods -- and it's the same factor as Asia

with food calories being more costly on a proportionable basis.

When we move to south america, it's a mix of low IQ and excess westernization/chains -- introducing

the same high sugar/vegetable oil content into the foods with grains being a large makeup of macronutrients.

Not to mention NEAT or non-excerise actvity thermogenesis is a bigger factor in less car-centric areas/areas that

are not too ''rich''. In the islands/whatever, it's a mix of low IQ and overuse/abundance of oils in their foods with

huge portions that are ''cheap'' calories. The availability of food in terms of pure protein or whole foods

just doesn't get up there, with fresh foods being more expensive to import, and lack of biomass to sustain those industries.

Only nations with more GDP/wealth like HK or Japan have dietary preferences that have a large enough wallet and

preferences towards more healthy foods. Seriously, even the local authorities have a proper menu on $ and nutrition.

In NA, we have a more capitalistic-top down less shame-oriented and more individualistic-oriented society, this

propogates some of that abundance of availability of fast-food restaurants, and whatnot but also with people

not caring too much about what they wear/what they look like and just less positive ethnocentrism skewed towards

fat shaming, etc too.

Overall it's a mix of many complex factors. Fundamentally it is caloric intake, but there is also pre-loading/volumetric

weight of foods/water content %/whole vs processed food uptake/portion substitution of % satiety-decreasing elements/caloric

density of foods/portion sizes/etc.

Also even when there is fast food restaurants in Japan at high density, you still eat mostly ''whole'' foods like teriyaki chicken or beef bowls which may only hit you at 300-600 calories vs a 1,800 calorie cake or 950 calorie 10-box of timbits.

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The two most salient factors in my mind are demand for highly processed food/carbs/seed oils and car dependency. The YT channel Not Just Bikes speaks of the "gym of life" that is present in areas with better (read: less) zoning restrictions which allowed them to avoid the preponderance of suburbs we have and allow for more walking/biking/skating area in everyday outdoor spaces. As an extra perk, this helps communities to be more close knit and for kids to get plenty of play.

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My answer is historical prosperity. Anglo countries have been richest for the longest which allowed access to cheap processed food sooner while europoors still had to cook home meals. Most existing fast food chains started in the US in the post-war era because America was the first country where most of the population had the money to eat out regularly. Same with pre-packaged snacks. Eastern Europe is the mirror example with obesity really picking up only since the economic growth after 2000.

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Sidewalk area per person? In my u.s. suburban zone, there are no sidewalks within a 6 mile radius. You risk death from traffic, if you tried biking or walking to the nearest Walgreens, or junk food market/gas station, both two miles away. But is that peculiarly Anglo metro non-planning?

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I don't know about the Anglo countries, but in Malta, the issue seems to be that people don't walk much (a five-minute walk?! let's take my car!) and they eat a lot (of bread, pasta and fat), which is the same thing one hears about the US, and the opposite of what one hears about Japan.

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Two possible factors :

- no good traditional diet (so easier to move to the dreadful so-called "western diet")

- more business oriented, more lobbying and corruption from agri-food industry

Ex : recently saw an old American sitcom, appalled to see kids drinking soda et eating chips all the time.

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And ultra processed food consumption is associated with bmi : https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/obr.12860

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How about profitability of the largest food companies that serve each country?

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What’s interesting about Pacific Islands and obesity is that they are all ones with supermajority Polynesian admixture. Pacific states with significant Melanesian admixture like Fiji or Vanuatu do not appear. It is almost certainly genetic, and I’d guess somehow the flip side of their amazing overrepresentation in rugby and American football.

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You only have to go to the cookie aisle in a British supermarket to understand. I live in Switzerland and I've never seen such a concentration of sweets before

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