This is one of the most badly needed vacations I’ve ever enjoyed, and I can’t see posting much until I’m back in Taipei next Thursday. There goes the site traffic.

While I’m here, can I make one brief observation? You don’t really realize just how obese so many Americans are until you come back from living in Asia, where obesity is far more rare. When you’re back, you are simply blown away by the sheer number of fat people – and I don’t mean pleasantly plump, but rather the type who can barely fit into a revolving door. I mean the kind of fat that hangs off the chair and kills the ants on the floor. I sympathize with the difficulties of weight loss and don’t mean to make light of their plight. I’m just amazed at how prevalent obesity is here, and how different it is in Asia. (And I know it’s getting worse in China, but it’s still nowhere near the level here in America. No comparison.) Why has America become the Land of the Fat?

The Discussion: 28 Comments

I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice this. I did small rant on this a while back. I also posted a photo of one of the very large citizens  I encountered in LAX on my way home.

February 3, 2006 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

I really think the International Date Line should be renamed to the International Weight Line.

Don’t look now, but obesity is also on the rise in Asia too. I haven’t noticed it as much in Japan, but it’s definitely becoming more and more prevalent in China.

February 3, 2006 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

I have noticed the same over the years; as for explanations, off the top of my head are the availability of fast food coupled with other driving priorities ranging from making money to over-tasking to watching TV with exercise and sensible diet being on the low end of the priority totem pole.

February 3, 2006 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

My response is more directed to Richard’s observation, though I have also noticed what Gordon brings up.

February 3, 2006 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

From NY Times

East Meets West, Adding Pounds and Peril

February 3, 2006 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

Two years ago I flew from Taipei (where I had been living for some time) to Chicago. I was downright shocked. I went from being normal sized to being a super-skinny midget in just ten hours. I’m okay with being short, but I couldn’t believe how fat white people in America are!

February 3, 2006 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

Diet and suburban lifestyle. The two together are a killer.

February 3, 2006 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

Simple: portion sizes are huge in the US and everyone drinks soda. Bring them on? Pack em on…

February 3, 2006 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

>>believe how fat white people in America are!

This phenomenon is definitely not limited to white Americans.

February 3, 2006 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

As a couple of people have already observed, it’s a sedentary lifestyle coupled with the availability of low-cost high-calorie foods.

Waistlines are expanding faster than the economy in China, especially among the young. Part of the problem, I believe, is that caregivers (grandparents in particular) remember the ‘hard times’ when they ate whatever was available to them.

There also exists an attitude that to be fat is a sign of health and strength. I was going to blame the parents But if you blame the parents then you must blame their education and upbringing. So let’s cut to the last page; it’s all the fault of the CCP.

Not that the Chinese need to worry about obesity related health issues; they only need pop down to the local clinic where someone in a white coat can put you on a drip for an hour. Cures everything, apparently.

February 3, 2006 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

“This phenomenon is definitely not limited to white Americans.”

Absolutely right. There’s a genetic component that makes the cells of some people more efficient at storing fat. This efficiecy evolved over thousands of years during which finding sufficient food for survival was difficult.

Now these people are suddenly exposed to plentiful supplies of highly calorific foods and their fat cells are not capable of adapting to the changed circumstances in that sort of time frame.

This is why China is going to need bigger cars and stronger chairs.

February 3, 2006 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

I’m with Michael …

Two things really struck me from my recent trip to the US. Portion sizes … out of this world … I started calling USA the “Land of the Giants” because of it … whoever heard of a Turkey club sandwich with 14 layers of turkey in it? I was so shocked by the size of the thing, I actually counted. Soda too … I hardly ever drink the stuff, and I always prefer fruit juice or water … but that certainly wasn’t what most people were drinking … in massive oversized cups. Even the chicken salads I ordered were so big I even took photos of them because I was afraid people back home wouldn’t believe me …

February 4, 2006 @ 12:28 am | Comment

It’s type of food as well (along with portion size). Everything sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which apparently negatively affects insulin production…combine that with a sedentary lifestyle and no wonder there’s such a high incidence of Type 2 diabetes here. That I gather has a genetic component as well – certain Native Americans are really prone to it.

February 4, 2006 @ 12:38 am | Comment

The “Americans are so fat” meme has been beaten to death on this site. Richard and Gordon seem to take special delight in this topic.

I respect both of you very much, but the repeated harping on fatness is not the product of your better selves.

What in the world does this repetition hope to improve, other than your self images?

No one who is fat is unaware of their situation.

How about some proposals to improve things? A tax on high fructose corn syrup perhaps? Any actual ideas?

This sites well-earned reputation for intellectual conversation is damaged by this post and the comments above.

My humble opinion….

February 4, 2006 @ 3:57 am | Comment

Enough already …

My suggestion would be “how about people take responsibility for themselves?”

Yes, there are all the options available to get your fat in USA … and there are people who are more genetically prone to it than others … but in the end, 90% of people have no one to blame except themselves. A tax on food types to stop people making themselves fat? How about a tax on stupid people? I think that would be fairer.

February 4, 2006 @ 6:32 am | Comment

Enough Already (Steve), where do I delight in this topic? What are you talking about?

February 4, 2006 @ 7:40 am | Comment

FSN9, tax on stupid people, I like that one. Other solutions, eat at home, eat food that doesn’t taste that great (you won’t eat as much), eat oatmeal with an egg in it for breakfast, (it’s very filling), park at the far end of the lot, and Gordon, take the stairs.

February 4, 2006 @ 9:01 am | Comment

I used to snigger at how overweight you Yanks were, until my last holiday home to Britain when I had to wipe the smirk from my face.

Welcome to the decline of Western civilisation.

February 4, 2006 @ 9:21 am | Comment

Obesity is good for the US economy. Look at all the exercise places, home exercise equipment, extra big clothes size markets, powered mobility scooters, diet foods, diet pills, diet doctors, and all the other doctors treating the obesity related health problems.

February 4, 2006 @ 9:55 am | Comment

Gordon, here’s a stock tip, buy UTX (NYSE), they own Otis. haha

February 4, 2006 @ 10:09 am | Comment


All I know is that I have come across this topic a number of times on your otherwise excellent blog. In this post, once again, you bring up this topic for no real reason. Perhaps more of this delight comes from Gordon than yourself, but you seem to (at least in this occasion) foster and encourage the topic of obesity in America.

I agree that people should take personal responsibility. But why stop at obesity? Why not discuss smoking, where the damage is not only to the person themselves, but to all of those surrounding them?

And I am not sure why you feel the need to “out” me for what was a minor criticism of your blog. I love your blog and recommend to everyone. I have donated money to you via paypal to support your efforts. But if I say some small critical comment, I need to be “outed”? I wanted to be anonymous and I feel you should have respected my wishes here.

February 4, 2006 @ 5:10 pm | Comment


Cooler heads…

I apologize if my original comment or the second one above has caused you distress.

I love your blog and respect you very much. I hope we can have a beer next time you are in Beijing.

February 4, 2006 @ 5:25 pm | Comment

Oh no! Here comes Mister Chreosote!

“….have just one more, eet ees WAFER-theen!”

February 4, 2006 @ 5:32 pm | Comment


February 4, 2006 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

beer is fattening

February 4, 2006 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

Enough Already,

It would seem that this topic strikes a nerve with you for some reason, I can only guess that it’s because you are one of those who fall into the category of being overweight.

So let me get something straight here…it’s okay for us to point out the ills of Chinese society as long as we don’t turn out sights on America?

Screw that!

There are way too many fat asses in America. Far too many people lack the self-control it takes to maintain a healthy diet. Rather than doing something about it, they make excuses as to why they can’t.

Put the fork down and push away from the table!

I don’t understand why people find it so insulting and degrading to have their over-indulgences point out. I would think it would be more degrading to have everyone looking at you in disgust. Do these people have no self-respect?

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve walked into a Chinese buffet only to find it filled with over-weight individuals who really shouldn’t be there in the first place.

I will not be quiet on this issue just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Fuck that! Let that be their motivation to do something about it. I personally feel that obesity is one of the most ultimate forms of selfishness there is.

My mother happens to be obese and as a result she has arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and several other health aliments that are a direct result of her being over-weight. It’s sickening and if she doesn’t do something about it, it will be the death of her. I take that personally. It’s my mother and she’s being selfish. She owes it to herself and her family to take care of her health.

I don’t make fun of people for being fat and overweight, but I will call them on it! Their selfishness affects everyone around them.

America has become too politically correct. If you really care about your friends, you’d tell them that they’re overweight and you’d encourage them to do something about it instead of sweeping it under the rug.

February 4, 2006 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

Steve, I only “outed” you because there’s no reason to post here under multiple aliases; it’s something I’ve long discouraged. And in the history of this blog, I believe I’ve posted twice about obesity in America. Seriously, I think you are under a misimpression. In any case, no big deal and thanks for the praise about my site.

February 4, 2006 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

By Alan Sherman, sung to the tune of “Glow Little Glow-worm”

Grow, Mrs Goldfarb,
Fatter, fatter,
Pile the potatoes on your platter
…You had for breakfast:
Two pounds bacon
Three dozen eggs, one coffee cake, and
Then you had something really awful,
Four kippered herrings on a waffle,
Nine English muffins, one baked apple,
Boston cream pie and Philly Scrapple,
Seventeen bowls of Crispy Crunch,
Then you said:
“What’s for lunch?”
Eat, Mrs Goldfarb, daily, nightly,
Eat though your chair is bending slightly:
No other bride could be so sweet,
Eat, Mrs Goldfarb, eat!

February 5, 2006 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

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