Obesity in America and Obesity in Europe

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How does the eating habits in Spain, Italy, and Sicily compare to typical eating habits in America?

We spent some weeks in Europe recently. We were in Spain, Italy, and Sicily. We observed that we rarely saw obese natives. The people that we saw who were obese seemed to be mostly tourists from America and parts of north Central Europe.

We became curious about what people ate and how they lived and ate in ways that were different from what we see in America. These are the things we came to understand:

In Italy the locals that we saw in the villages and cities seemed to walk everywhere. The streets of many of the villages are cobblestone and steep. Walking seemed to be the primary means of transport during the day. They climb stairs whenever they have an opportunity and and they have many many opportunities in these villages.

For breakfast, locals told us they ate granita and brioche. Granita is a sugared ice drink or slush and the brioche is a very light bread that also has sweetness. They told us that around 10 or 11 they stop for a snack of cheese and meat or bread, and then between 1 and 3 they have lunch. This could be a pizza, pasta, a sandwich and/ or salad. Then around 7 or 8 in the evening, they have dinner with the family. They do not watch tv while they eat. They do not eat away from the table, and they eat and talk together.

The meals are mostly made from fresh ingredients, many of which they grow in their own gardens. If they don’t or can’t garden they go to the market many of them go marketing every day for fresh fruits and vegetables and they eat a lot of fish and very little beef. They eat goat and lamb and pork and chickens. Their salad dressing is made from vinegar (usually balsamic) and olive oil. Very lightly sprinkled over the salad.

Some of you may recognize this as what we call the Mediterranean diet.

By comparison in America, we eat a lot of prepared foods, many are precooked and have lots of preservatives and sugars in them. Our government has a food policy that promotes the growth and sale of corn and corn sugar which is then put in most of our prepared foods. In America, we should learn to shop around the outside of the grocery store isles. Get the fresh ingredients and prepare fresh meals. Eat at home not in front of the tv but with the family. We need as a society to work on better portion control, especially when we go out to eat at a restaurant. We and they need to be better about portion size. One of the most horrific mistakes that parents can make raising their children is to make those children members of the clean your plate club!!

Eat fresh, eat reasonable amounts, eat together, and then walk as much as you can. These are the lessons of the Mediterranean and these are the reasons that there is not as much obesity here as there is in America.

This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author, with Brett Newcomb, MA., LPC., Family Counselor, Presenter and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com

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