Living or traveling abroad can give you unique perspectives on general trends related to nationality. One of the most stark conclusions I have ever come to while reflecting on my jetsetting hours is that America is very, very fat.
It's impossible not to to notice, particularly on any return to America after having been away for a while.
An enlightening new research article titled "The Weight of Nations" was recently published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. What have we learned through mass data collection on human weight?
The whole of humanity weighs approximately 287 million tonnes.
Global average body weight is about 136 pounds.
Average American body weight is about 178 pounds. So Americans are, on average, 42 pounds heavier than the global average.
If all other countries were to catch up with our body mass, there would be enough additional weight to increase the world's population by 935 million people.
Although America is only responsible for 6% of the world's population, we are carrying around 34% of the world's obesity.
There are countless reasons to take this seriously for our continued existence as a nation and as a species on Earth. But one factor that we need to hold ourselves accountable for is our impact on the planet.
Many of us are, to some degree, conscious of the environmental strain the planet is under. This is often discussed in terms of population burden. Yet our most populous continent of Asia, which is responsible for 61% of the world's population, is only responsible for 13% of global obesity.
Our weight represents our impact. Our weight is a byproduct of consumption. Consumption necessitates production, which causes pollution. Our grain- and meat-filled diets are produced by fuel-heavy agricultural practices that destroy soil and air quality and over-use water. Plastic containers, shipping and processing, waste production. And there is additional burden that our over-heavy bodies cause on the world, like more resources being required to provide us with medicines to keep our fat bodies alive and somewhat comfortable.
It is too easy to criticize the rapidly growing population of other nations when we discuss the sustainability of the Earth. But to fully examine the impact of a nation on the whole planet goes beyond population. Even beyond economic impact, energy expenditure, and manufacturing practices.
I believe in loving yourself for who you are. Being happy in your skin. Non-judgement of appearance. But as a national trend, something is very much wrong with our weight and our health.
We have to be held responsible for our fat, America. This has to change.