Why Europeans Are Thinner Than
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September 28, 2008, last updated June 20, 2016
By Dusty Howard, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Back home from my last trip to Europe four years ago, I
finally knew the secret to why Europeans are thinner than
we Yanks are.  

In Europe ---The Netherlands and Spain for a "round year"
anniversary --- I remember the first time I knew this
vacation would require an adjustment of my head.  I was in
a small town outside of Amsterdam about to board a ferry.
I was hungry because it was just before 8AM and I hadn't
eaten before I left my hotel.

I sashayed up to the counter of a breakfast bar and asked
for a sandwich and a container of what looked like
potatoes. The clerk, friendly enough, gave me both.  Only
he didn't give me both the sandwich and the potatoes. He
carefully wrapped the container of potatoes.  

He had assumed I would eat them later.

For a moment I thought about asking him to unwrap the
container. Then it hit me. This was part of the secret to why
Europeans are thinner.  They eat smaller portions.

And for the rest of the trip, so did I.

Second revelation.  I have never walked more than when I
was in Europe.  I realized that here in the States, we may
exercise harder --in gyms.  But in our everyday lives, we
barely move.

It's not entirely our faults. Our cities are not built for

Most of our downtowns are for work, not living. We live
our lives encased in air-conditioned cars on our way to
air-conditioned cubicles.  We go from one plexiglass
encasement to another plexiglass encasement.

In Europe, cities came first, with sidewalks and
boulevards-- and stayed that way.  Highways by and large
were add-ons. There are few if any "edge cities"-- you
know the type. Clones upon clones  of pseudo
made-for-business-only towns have sprung up way outside
of any metropolis, anchored by an office park or a mall,
existing for the sole purpose of providing a vessel to collect
the highway river of shopping Off Exit So-and-So, soul-less
hodgepods with no real center of sidewalk life at all.  

America is a nation of drivers. We drive everywhere. My
brother-in-law once drove over to his neighbor's house ---
across the street. We wear our cars like armor, protecting
us in our safe, hermetically-sealed, temperature-controlled
encasements from outside bombardments of noise and heat
and cold --- and people.

New studies have confirmed what I saw first hand, that
Europeans walk far more than we do. In fact, about 3 times

Third revelation. Europeans live in buildings without
elevators. Of course there are many buildings in Europe
which have elevators. But there are many more which do
not. Many Europeans have to walk up stairs to their
apartments. That extra two or three --- or five --- flights a
day add up. Over time, the stair climbing build up leg
muscles. Those leg muscles burn calories all day and all

So, there it is. Small portions. And sidewalks.  And climbing
stairs.  I can create the smaller portions. I can even take
the stairs. But are there any city planners  out there who
can build me some sidewalks?

By the way, here's the list of America's Fattest Cities,
according To Men's Fitness Magazine:

2007 RANKING         LAST YEAR
1. Las Vegas                2
2. San Antonio            12
3. Miami                      14
4. Mesa, AZ                 10
5. Los Angeles             3
6. Houston                   5
7. Dallas                      4
8. El Paso                    8
9. Detroit                    15
10. San Jose               24

The Top 10 Fittest Cities in 2007

2007 RANKING         LAST YEAR
1. Albuquerque            13
2. Seattle                      8
3. Colorado Springs      6
4. Minneapolis             21
5. Tucson                      4
6. Denver                    20
7. San Francisco          7
8. Baltimore                 1
9. Portland                  17
10. Honolulu                 2            


As of 2016, Washington, now the fittest city in the
US, just edging out Minneapolis-St.Paul and Denver,
Colorado, according to the American College of Sports
Medicine. Washington, D.C. topped led this organization
rankings  for 3 consecutive years. Some attribute the high
ranking to the fact that 95% of D.C. residents live within
walking distance of  a park.]

Just How Overweight Are We Compared to the World?

In June of 2012, a group of researchers published a study
in the BMC Public Health Journal that estimated the average
weight of different regions of the world.

Not surprisingly, North America has the fattest humans on
earth. We average 80 kilograms of body weight. That's 176

Next fattest are those who live in the "Oceana" region
(Polynesians). They average 74 kilograms. That's 163
pounds on average.

Then come the Europeans at 70 kilograms. That's 154

Then comes Latin Americans and Caribbeans at 68
kilograms (150 pounds).

Next, Africans average 60.7 kilograms (134 pounds).

And finally, Asians, the thinnest people on the planet,
averaging 57.7 kilograms. That's 127 pounds.

Of course, the taller you are, the more you are likely to
weigh, and Asians are on average far shorter than North
Americans. But even after discounting for height, we are
too fat. We've got a lot of work to do.

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