So, why are Americans “Fatter” than the Italians and the French?

Here’s an interesting question: while the United States has an overall obesity rate (all ages) of 30.6%, it is 9.4% inFranceand only 8.5% inItaly; why?    After all, these two countries are well known for their foods. The Italians eat all that pasta, and the French lots of bread (French bread and croissant).  Neither culture’s cuisine seems to particularly emphasize vegetables. So what’s the deal?

Serving size is one possible reason.  Research in theU.S.has previously documented that serving sizes in restaurants has risen over the years. This is not so in other countries.  We may choose meals unconsciously when ordering, considering them a better value for the money.  Restaurants, needing to still turn a profit despite offering these bigger servings, find ways to expand the size cheaply…more starchy types of foods, such as bread, rice, potato, pasta rather than vegetable and lean protein, which tend to cost more to buy and prepare.  Another difference is in the consumption of sodas, which were generally served differently.  In restaurants they are often served in glass bottles, (remember those!) in 8 , 10, or sometimes 12 ounces,  and sometimes in a can (usually 10 oz, a taller thinner version compared with the U.S).  They are much more expensive do not come with refills.  Older readers may recall a time when free refills were not the norm here either.   In the end though this really gets back to the same thing… serving size. The cause of our rising obesity rates is a complicated problem, and it would be naïve to think that the causes are as simple as this one factor. Nevertheless it does illustrate one way in which what we do here is different, and may be an observation worth considering as we make dietary choices for ourselves and our children.