Given we’re all dealing with the guilt and slight weight gains caused by the holidays, now would be a good moment to reflect on global eating and exercise habits. This week we looked to ChartsBin and the WHO for global data on fat consumption and levels of activity, here is what we found:
First off, surprise surprise, many affluent countries have high levels of fat consumption and higher percentages of overweight residents. The average American consumes 161 g of fat a day and 69% of the population is overweight. We Canadians are a bit more restrained and consume (on average) 145 g of fat and 61% of us our overweight. Europe has the regional variety and nuance you’d expect, with countries noted for their rich cuisine like France (164 g fat/46% overweight), and Italy (158 g fat/49% overweight) both having a heftier populace than say the Scandinavian nations. If you’re wondering, the richest eaters on earth are to be found in Belgium where the daily fat consumption is 164 g of fat (clearly mostly derived from chocolate) and a whopping 86% of Samoans are overweight.
Related: Is it my fault I’m fat?
On the less indulgent and/or less affluent end of the spectrum there are a number of countries with diets that are considerably more modest. The stats of China (90 g fat/25% overweight) and India (48 g/11% overweight) are quite incredible compared to the indulgence and inactivity of the West. There is even more contrast when we compare the ‘overdeveloped’ excess of the West to some of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia (21 g fat/8% overweight) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (24 g fat/11% overweight) both have approximately a sixth of the daily fat consumption and a quarter of the overweight citizens as we have in Canada.
In reviewing eating, weight, and levels of activity by country, region, and continent, it is clear there are a lot of forces at play that determine the diet and fitness level of a group of a people. The residents of some countries can’t afford to have indulgent diets and others are not well off enough to have time to stay in shape. Others have very low levels of overweight residents and obesity, but lower general wellness. Despite our Americanized tendencies here in Canada, we are lucky to have the choice and means for a rich diet and a healthy(ish) lifestyle. So, all of that said, don’t bail on your fitness-themed New Year’s resolutions and keep on soldiering at the gym!