Ulrich Speck of Kosmoblog wrote a comment on our post "Berliners are faster than New Yorkers." He doubts the survey's findings based on his experience in Berlin and Manhattan. Ulrich also points out that Germans are as fat as Americans. Let's continue our little series of transatlantic "socio-physical facts." The International Obesity TaskForce provides international data on obesity. And DW World reports:
In response to a recent study which showed that Germans are fatter than all other Europeans, the German government called Wednesday for concrete steps to wage a nationwide battle of the bulge. (...) The new initiative was spurred by a study released by the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It found that among EU countries, Germany has the most overweight women and men. Among adults, the study found that 58.9 percent of German women are overweight; 75.4 percent of men tip the scales. (...) The rates of obese and overweight Germans now match those of Americans.
Ulrich points out that "the fat American" has been a core topic in Germany for decades and many Germans have claimed that "this fatness underlines the lack of culture, together with death penality and other typical American habits. Now the Germans are as fat as the Americans. What a shock." For a fairly recent example see Medienkritik. UPDATE: You gotta love this Sunday's Scotsman article "German fatties fear the wurst":
Germans are being told to go easy on their bratwurst and bier in favour of more sauerkraut. A looming obesity crisis has seen Berlin ordering an action plan to persuade the nation to shed the kilos. Click to learn more... But the slog to fit into those slim-fit lederhosen will be an über challenge for the nation which gave the world the litre-sized glass of beer, where restaurant portions are often so hefty that those who cannot empty their plates are offered doggy bags so they can finish the rest later, and where being able to cruise at speed in a sleek car rather than walk is regarded as a divine right. (...) The common self-image of a happy German life is to be seated at a table groaning with huge portions of regional foods accompanied by piles of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, and with a huge mug of foaming beer never far away (Germany produces an estimated 5,000 different varieties of beer). A crucial part of political campaigning is sampling regional specialities, usually with a glass of beer or wine, and politicians with poor appetites face an uphill struggle. Helmut Kohl, the Chancellor who reunited Germany, was addicted to saumagen - a regional haggis type dish which had a dramatic effect on his waistline - with the 6'4" politician weighing in at about 20 stone.
Of course, the Scotsman finds a way to bring up Adolf Hitler and the Nazi past in this article about obesity. One reader commented on the Scotsman website:
Knowing both countries, Scotland and Germany, I can tell you that portions served in German restaurants are by no means larger than those in Scottish restaurants. Besides, the idea of the doggy bag was imported from the US of A and this bag is not commonly used in Germany.
Sushi is more and more popular in Germany...
The Japanese live very long and healthy and thin, but no effect in Germany.
Despite decades of European integration and thousands of Italian restaurants etc. no change in the German diet?
Hm, Italian restaurans serve fatty pizza and lasagne... Not the typical Southern fruity, fatless diet....
Do we need more European integration?
More exchange programs to learn good diets?
Here's the Scotsman's part about Hitler and the Nazi past, which might not even be true. I thought those TV spots about AIDS prevention were from the government... I hardly ever watch TV, so I don't know about government advertisements.
[quote="Scotsman"]But the legacy of Germany's Nazi past is forcing the Bundesregierung, or federal government, to forget TV adverts giving millions advice on avoiding fatty foods and taking exercise.
The government is banned from buying advertising space on TV by the country's own constitution, which was framed in the wake of the Second World War. Those who drew up the laws remembered how the Nazis were masters of using the cinema for propaganda and feared giving any government the same kind of power. They were also nervous that governments might use advertising leverage to put pressure on broadcasters.
One insider quipped: "The last time we had a non-smoking vegetarian who wanted to tell us what to do, it wasn't a happy experience."
Adolf Hitler shunned both smoking and the meat-based German diet. One of his few culinary indulgences was rich Austrian-style cream cakes.
In the 21st century, food officials have admitted that challenging the Germans' love of hefty helpings of solid, heavy portions will be a struggle.
They have ruled out any diktats or lists of forbidden foods.
I thought about it but I also think it is not true. At least the government could found state owned companies which can advertise its policies.
Anyway, they could do this a whole lot more often, as the image of our politicians and their policies among the population could hardly get any worse.
I find currywurst vomitous although I do enjoy many traditional German sausages like the various regional versions of bratwurst. Also spatzle and kartofflesalat.
I once saw a web page for a German restaurant which prided itself on offering truly humungeous portions - one kilo schnitzels and the like. I couldn't find the link.Food is nauseating in those portions.
Oh well, they do it in the US as well. One of the minor regional burger chains stood out by offering an enoumous hamburger for more than $10 I think. I couldn't eat it in a week much less in a sitting.