Sondra Solovay and Esther Rothblum
Isn't it odd that people deeply divided on almost every important topic can so easily and seemingly organically agree on the above assertion? Isn't it similarly strange that countries significantly divergent in culture, attitudes, and approaches apparently share the fat-is-bad sentiment? In fact, according to the popular media, one of the few disagreements that exists is which country is hardest hit by the so called “obesity epidemic.”
Consider the following contradictory statements:
“Somewhere along the way, [Americans have] supersized ourselves into becoming
the fattest nation on earth” (MSNBC, 2003).
“Australia has become the fattest nation in the world, with more than 9 million
adults now rated as obese or overweight, according to an alarming new report”
“Canadian adults, both men and women, are the most obese in a survey of 63 na-
tions that raises new health warnings for our country.” (Spears, 2007).
“Fat German citizens—the fattest in the European Union?” (Müller-Nothmann,
“Now heavyweight Brits are the fattest people in Europe” (Macrae, 2008).
Regardless of which country is actually the “fattest nation on earth,” the United States quickly declared a “war on fat” with the support of former U.S. surgeon general C. Everett Koop (Koop, 1997). The World Health Organization (O'Hara, 2006) data on “obesity” in adults indicate that the United States ranks twentieth, Australia thirtyfifth, and Canada thirty-seventh in global rates of “obesity.” Ranking ahead in weight are a number of nations in the Pacific (e.g., Fiji, Samoa) and the Middle East (e.g., Kuwait, Jordan). Countries that have the greatest number of “obese” children include a number of nations in eastern Europe (e.g., Albania, Armenia) and some African nations (e.g., Algeria, Lesotho; see O'Hara & Gregg, 2006.)