By Alejandro Grattan Dominguez
IT’S A FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT WORLD
In 1963, producer-director Stanley Kramer made a movie called It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which was a bad, bad, bad movie, a pastiche of soggy sight-gags which featured several AARP personalities, including Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Andy Devine, Jonathan Winters and The Three Stooges.
But what struck me most in recently watching (not all of it) the film was that almost every leading cast members was . . . grossly over-weight—a sight which prompted me to do a little research on obesity. The results are not encouraging.
As our planet has gotten more populated, its inhabitants are growing larger. Waistlines are expanding so rapidly that health experts have coined a term for this epidemic: globesity.
Today, one in three of the world’s adults are over-weight and one in ten is obese, according to the World Health Organization, which also believes that number of chubby adults will balloon to 2.3 billion by 2015.
The reason: increased modernization and a world-wide explosion in the availability of highly processed foods. But of course some countries have a higher percentage of fat people than others. Here are a few of the countries with the dubious distinction of being in The Top Ten Weightiest Countries.
At Number 10—The United Kingdom, where 61% of the population is over-weight. The heaviest man in the world is a 48-year-old Brit who checks in at 980 pounds. Brits are among the bottom third of European nations in exercise. A government official recently said, “We are in danger of being known as the best in the world for watching sports.”
At Number 8—Israel, where 61.9% are over-weight and where the number of obese people has tripled since the 1970s. Jewish women with college degrees have the lowest level of obesity, while Arab women with a basic education have the highest.
At Number 4—Germany, where 66.5% are over-weight, making the country the fattest nation in Europe. The usual suspects are of course beer, fatty foods and lack of physical activity. As with most of the rest of the world, Germans are suffering from easy availability of junk food and more sedentary jobs and lifestyles.
At Number 3—The United States, where 66.7% of the population is over-weight. In the 1960s, only 24% of the people were over-weight. Today, two-thirds of Americans are too fat. The reason—over-production of oil, fat and sugar, the result of farm subsidies in the 1970s that made it much cheaper to manufacture products like high fructose corn syrup.
And coming in at Number 1—Samoa, where a staggering 93.5% of the people are too chunky. Prior to WWII, this was not the case. Since then, the country has really started to throw its weight around, especially as witnessed by the inordinately high percentage of professional football players from Samoa.
Mexico is rather well down on the list of the World’s Fattest Nations, though given its wonderfully delicious albeit fattening foods, this defies prevailing logic. One reason could be the trend in Mexico over the past few decades to much greater interest in participatory sports and exercise.
Well, having filled this column with the required number of words, I’m now off to make my weekly visit to my weight scales where I fully expect to be mugged by rather distressing news.