Healthy Lifestyle and Environment: International Perspective

By Nicholas Perugini, Trending Writer

Europe is the land of the croissants, pizza, rich chocolates, Belgian waffles, Danishes, and many other delicious snacks and foods. All the foods named above are also easily available in America as well. Americans actually eat more pizza than Italians. Here in South Orange, we have a Belgian waffle restaurant. It is safe to say that we eat similar foods to European countries. If we eat the same foods, then why is the U.S. so much more obese than Europe? In all of Europe, only 20% of the population is obese, compared to the U.S. population where around 35% is obese. What is the cause of this 15% difference? The answer is serving size.

Compared to the rest of the world, the United States has massive serving sizes. In Europe a waffle lightly sprinkled with chocolate and sugar is okay to eat every once and a while, especially when the waffle is the size of half the plate. In America, Belgian waffles take up the entire plate are most commonly drowned in whipped cream and maple syrup. Pasta is filled with carbohydrates, but Italians can have this food as a staple because their portions are smaller. In the United States, someone may have a bowl of pasta and an Italian might not even be able to finish it. European food is not necessarily healthier than food in the United States, but the serving size is a lot smaller. This has helped keep Europe’s obese population lower than the United States.

Another thing that differentiates the United States from Europe is the time when we eat our meals. American usually have their largest meal at dinner around 7:00 at night. Europeans have their largest meal at lunch. European dinners are lighter and less filling. Since the larger meal is near the middle of the day the food can be easily digested throughout the day. In America when someone has a large meal a few hours before bed, the meal is still in the stomach, instead of being properly digested.

If one is currently trying to be healthier and too busy to consistently hit the gym, another way to reach a goal is to cut serving size. It is surprising how large American serving sizes are compared to Europe. Yes, there are still unhealthy foods to avoid, but having some in smaller portions and less often is not a bad thing. Exercise and eating the right foods are important, but so watching how much you eat.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 4th print edition.

Contact Nicholas at


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