America is Poisoning the World: Here’s Why

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

Fat AmericansStudy after study shows the longer that immigrants live in the US, the more likely they are to become overweight.

Why is America becoming an overwhelmingly overweight nation and infecting everyone that moves here? Or, why do countries that adopt our lifestyle also become fat?

I look at it this way: We live in a nation/society that surrounds us with every opportunity to become overweight.

The sad part is we must fight against it to stay healthy!

An Obesity Promoting Working World

eating-at-deskIn America, we put most of our focus on our jobs. We work all day and sometimes all night to succeed at our jobs. For many of us, we work so hard just for job security.

We are expected to put in extra time and push the limits. We don’t get to take extended afternoon breaks and sometimes we only get a few days vacation out of the whole year!

Since many work hard, this leaves less time to prepare meals and eat well from home. Many are in a rush to get food on the table and then get started with the next day’s work.

This also leaves less time for exercise.

Working Women More Prevalent in the West

working woman

The last century has brought women to the workforce and away from the home.

This has given us many opportunities for life fulfillment and general advancement as a nation. However, this has taken away from healthy home meal preparation.

Eating out and eating convenience foods quickly spikes our calorie intake.

Life in the Car

eating in carWe spend sometimes 10% of the day in the car. Many have to commute to work, or get stuck in traffic.

Therefore, we use drive-thru’s  and drive cars to run simple errands because we are pressed for time. There are fewer sidewalks, and fewer bike lanes than in other countries.

Even if there are sidewalks in some cities, they are used infrequently because the towns are more spread out.

What does this lead to? Less activity and fewer calories burned.

Ever-present Processed Convenience Foods

processed food

Many of us already try to avoid foods like chips, candy, soda, and cookies. However, there is still a huge presence of these types of foods in vending machines down the hall and at convenience stores. Cheap and accessible.

We have started to turn the corner on this one are seeing fruits, nuts, and unsweetened beverages in vending machines.

Convenience stores have begun to offer fruit, raw vegetables, and light sandwiches. But, the bad choices FAR outweigh the healthy ones!

These are not excuses for why so many are overweight, but rather spotlights on the hurdles we must overcome to get healthy.

Do you know people who have moved to America and have gained weight?

Filed in Opinion,


  1. O.

    I was watching a British show on the Oprah Winfrey networrk called super fat vs super skinny , where a skinny person and a fat person who both have bad eating habits switch food for a week…

    I was honestly shocked at how nasty looking British food appeared. I watched many episodes too. So unless the food presented on the show was just for show and prepared by one chef, it was just across the board awful looking.

    Even their version of American favorites like pizza, burgers, and Chinese food just looked awful on the show. I’d eat less if I was over there.

    But you also have to take into account that dental standards are different in many foreign countries. If you are missing teeth, or your teeth are crooked or hurt it might affect your ability to enjoy food.

  2. Spectra

    I’ll also add one more thing–I noticed that in Europe, not many people eat and drive at the same time because most cars have a manual transmission. I personally drive a stick as well and I can vouch for the fact that it’s really hard to shift, eat, and steer all at the same time.

  3. Ted

    I have a Kiwi mate that moved to the USA to get married. He was skinny when he arrived, but within a few months had a gut. He said food was everywhere here and so cheap… I didn’t understand this until I lived in New Zealand. Yes, they have junk food, but it’s not as prevalent and junk food is more expensive there.

  4. Jim

    Something I can’t judge, as I don’t live there… but surely the research shows this. There’s a cultural bias toward over-sweetened food and overcooked portion sizes.

  5. Sundi Jo

    You’re so right on with this article.

  6. Dan

    I haven’t really noticed someone gaining weight after they moved here- however, this most definitely happens. This would be the case esp.if they went to fast food restaurants, drove everywhere, as well ate convenience foods.. Actually, in my case, the first time I was ever really fat was when I lived in Greece from ’83-’85. At that time, they didn’t have so many hamburger joints, but they did sell souvlaki, which is the same as gyros on every corner. That probably is fattening. A lot of french fries were sold, as well as baklava and other Greek pastries. Cheese and spinach pies that were sold everywhere are also very fattening. I also ate much of the Greek cooking. Olive oil was not drizzled, it was poured on everything that people ate. Remember that Olive Oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. When I moved back here, I gained even more weight, but that because of just the same factors that Nicole named, such as fast food, driving everywhere as well as eating convenience foods. Even now, I cannot go to even healthier restaurants more than once a week. I also ride my bike everywhere instead of driving. America may be #1 for obesity, but Greece is #5. When I have gone back to visit Greece, I found that the concentration fast food restaurants seems to be even higher than here. Somehow the other Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and France have lower rates of obesity, although their rates are growing.

  7. SmoledMan

    Isn’t obesity exploding everywhere? To blame it on America is to engage in the kind of rank bias that we don’t need here. What happened to patriotism?

    • Crystal Glass

      So it’s patriotic to get fat?

  8. Spectra

    I haven’t met anyone recently who moved here and gained weight, but in college, a girl on my floor was from the Phillipines and she gained 10-15 lbs when she moved here. She said it was probably because there is literally food EVERYWHERE. In other countries, that isn’t so much the case. I’ve been out of the country for several weeks at a time and I always lose weight when I leave because the food is more planned-out. People eat only at mealtimes and they don’t really eat nonstop like we do. There aren’t vending machines, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, etc. everywhere you look. Maybe in the bigger cities, but even then it just isn’t a culturally acceptable thing to do to just eat all the time. We could learn a lot by adopting the eating habits of other countries.