By Jin Ju Wilder
I don’t watch the NBC show, The Biggest Loser, but I have seen enough teasers, previews and snippets of the show to get the idea. Overweight contestants compete against each other to see who can lose the most weight during a specific period of time by improving their fitness levels and diets. I also understand that there have been opportunities for couples and even families to compete together against others on the show. This show has become so popular that countries around the world have adapted it and now televise their own version. The goal is the same; lose the highest percentage of or the most weight. I’m not kidding, there is The Biggest Loser South Africa, The Biggest Loser Germany, Cuestion de Peso in Argentina, and Ar Rabeh El Akabar in the Arab countries, to name a few.
As a country, I think we can agree that the United States is competitive. Nothing gets our patriotic juices pumping like the Olympics and we love to see our athletes standing on the top spot on the podium with our flag in the background and The Star Spangled Banner blasting through the stadium (even if we don’t know all the words and our celebrities regularly flub the lines at sporting events). If we love competition as a nation, then why are we losing the battle of the bulge? Unless we believe that being the heaviest nation in the Western World, which we are, is somehow winning. That seems to be the Charlie Sheen definition of the word “winning”.
What I suggest is starting a movement along the lines of The Biggest Loser – Countries. Let’s have whole countries compete to see who can lose the largest percentage or most weight. Let’s show the world that we can improve our country’s health by improving our fitness levels and our diets. We’re one of the most affluent countries in the world so we can’t use lack of resources as an excuse. Our government agencies are constantly reminding us of the importance of getting regular exercise and eating in moderation, but we don’t seem motivated to follow those guidelines. However, put a little U.S. pride on the line, offer us a gold medal and some media attention, might we change our habits?
I’d like to take on Canada first. For the first time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) commissioned a study to compare American obesity rates with another country. The study report was released on March 2, 2011 and they found that adults in the U.S. have a much higher rate of obesity than Canadians. The report adds to a growing pile of studies that show Americans are less healthy than people in other developed nations. When the CDC analyzed data from surveys taken from 2007 to 2009, they found that 34 percent of Americans are obese compared to just 24 percent of those from Canada.
The authors of the report did not give specific reasons for the difference between the two countries, although, they did point out that the two countries have different racial demographics. More blacks and Hispanics live in the U.S. and both have higher rates of obesity. However, when the report looked solely at white people, there was still a big difference — a 26 percent obesity rate in Canada compared to 33 percent in the United States. Accordingly, Americans were more likely to have medical issues that are related to obesity. For example, a 2006 Harvard Medical School study found that Americans are 42 percent more likely than Canadians to have diabetes, 32 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, and 12 percent more likely to have arthritis.
Let’s turn this around and show those Canadians what we’re made of. I’m serious, studies by Canada Statistics show that Canadians eat more fruits, vegetables and fish than Americans, while Americans eat more cheese, ice cream, meat, and eggs. So eat your fruits and veggies! Get outside and get moving! We can do this!
Who’s with me? (Don’t leave me hanging, I have my hand up for a high five.)
Editor’s Note: Three Squares does not advocate following the diet laid out in the TV show The Biggest Loser. We are simply trying to encourage people to eat healthy, balanced meals and engage in moderate exercise every day.
For more reading, check out Biggest Losers do an “About Face”, an article explaining the use of a Paleo diet for the season finale.