Ah, we Germans. Too bad our mighty and fierce history ends up on our waistlines these days.
Girdles, US Vs. EU
Remember when a while ago I wrote about the amazing differences in serving sizes between the US and the EU?
One impression you could have come away with after reading that is that us Europeans should be a fit bunch.
Especially us Germans, you could think, eat their vegetables, carve tools out of nice and solid German oaks and otherwise strive through the vast forbidding forests that cover Germania, under great peril hunting for the occasional piece of meat.
The Wild Germanic Savages
Once upon a time that was the case. Here is how the historian Plutarch described the behavior of the Germans when they crossed into Roman territory 2,100 years ago:
[T]hese Barbarians were so contemptuous and bold in following their enemies that, more by way of displaying their strength and daring than because it was necessary at all, they endured the snow-storms without any clothing, made their way through ice and deep snow to the summits, and from there, putting their broad shields under them and then letting themselves go, slid down the smooth and deeply fissured cliffs.
Caesar, who made the acquaintance of the Germans a while later, was impressed as well:
Their whole life is centered around hunting and military pursuits; from childhood they devote themselves to toil and hardship. Those who preserve their chastity longest win the highest approval from their friends; some think that this increases their stature, others that it develops their strength and muscles.
But since then chastity has gone terribly out of style and the only sliding most of use do these days is into the seats of our cars.
Yet we still eat like existence has to be wrested from an unforgiving nature every day.
The German Oak Got A Beer Belly
Germany’s Federal Bureau of Statistics just looked through their tons of data and how those tons translate to our girdles. We are getting fatter and fatter. Germans classified as overweight (a BMI of 25 or greater) now make up more than half of the population:
- In 2007 it was 49%
- In 2009 it was 51%
- In 2013 it was 52%
Differentiating between males and females makes a huge difference in the numbers: in 2013, 62% of men were overweight and 43% of women. Another study extrapolated how things will look in the future and comes to the conclusion that by 2030, 75% of Germans will be overweight.
Obesity (a BMI of 30+) is still more common in the US, but we sure have nothing to snicker about when looking across the Atlantic.
We Have To Adjust Our Style Of Eating
What makes comparisons between the US and EU – or, in fact, between any two industrialized nations – interesting for me is the parallels. Wherever food production becomes cheap and the population affluent, waists increase.
If we keep eating like this, we better give up modern civilization and live in a way that’s more compatible with our caloric intake.
If I only remembered where I left my large shield.
Picture courtesy of Cameron Parkins.