Why have Americans been more overweight than other Westerners? We were ahead of them in a trend. Europeans are porking out. This porking trend has extended down into the part of Europe which has been celebrated for the success of its diet: the Mediterranean. Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards are abandoning the Mediterranean diet with unhealthful consequences.
Small towns like this one in western Crete, considered the birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet — emphasizing olive oil, fresh produce and fish — are now overflowing with chocolate shops, pizza places, ice cream parlors, soda machines and fast-food joints.
The fact is that the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with longer life spans and lower rates of heart disease and cancer, is in retreat in its home region. Today it is more likely to be found in the upscale restaurants of London and New York than among the young generation in places like Greece, where two-thirds of children are now overweight and the health effects are mounting, health officials say.
We are not designed to handle the fast food diet. Better that the Greeks return to their traditional dishes. Greece now has the worst obesity rate in Europe. Wow.
This spring, a majority of children who were tested at the elementary school of this sleepy port town of 3,000, also known as Kissamos, were found to have high cholesterol. “It was the talk of the school,” said Stella Kazazakou, 44. “Instead of grades, the moms were comparing cholesterol levels.”
In Greece, three-quarters of the adult population is overweight or obese, the worst rate in Europe “by far,” according to the United Nations. The rates of overweight 12-year-old boys rose more than 200 percent from 1982 to 2002 and have been rising even faster since.
Italy and Spain are not far behind, with more than 50 percent of adults overweight. That compares with about 45 percent in France and the Netherlands.
Fresh produce and olive oil can't compete with hamburgers and fries. We need to either genetically engineer ourselves to dislike junk food or we need to genetically engineer our metabolisms to handle junk food without harmful effects.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2008 September 28 07:36 PM Aging Diet Studies|