We’d like to send a special shoutout to the United Kingdom (UK) for hosting us for two workout classes recently!
Did you know that on average, American men are only an inch taller than men in Great Britain, but they weigh nearly 15 pounds more than British men?
At five-feet, five-inches tall, American women are also an inch taller, on average, than women in Great Britain. But they are 10 pounds heavier than British women. Let’s address the four reasons why U.S. citizens are bigger than UK citizens:
1. Different Ingredients In Food
You won’t find exactly the same offerings at a British McDonald’s as you would at an American one. According to a study, McDonald’s french fries are made with fewer ingredients in the UK, so they taste soggier. KFC doesn’t sell American-style biscuits in the UK, and Domino’s pizza is made differently because of a lack of genetically-modified ingredients. In fact, many junk foods will taste different because GMOs are banned or largely restricted in the UK.
2. How We Celebrate with Food
In Britain, going out for a meal is almost always done to mark an occasion: a birthday, a reunion, an anniversary. But in America, it can be done just because you haven’t yet tried Chili’s new Awesome Avocado Bacon Milkshake Sugar Burger!
3. We Drink So Many More Calories
Coffee and soft drinks will often gladly be refilled with compliments in the United States. A lot of the time it’s done pro-actively by the servers, and they’ll keep doing it until you’re so high on caffeine you’re bouncing off the walls. The UK doesn’t do these refills, so the bills (checks) can mount-up pretty quickly over there if you order more than one and the kids are slurping down three or four Cokes per meal.
Americans love their coffee, but in the UK, you’ll be more likely to find an assortment of tea with your meals. Heck, tea even has its own afternoon activity over there, though it’s not always as fancy as it’s made out to be.
4. Different Feelings About Leftovers
Believe it or not, there seems to be a stigma attached to the American custom of taking our leftovers home in a bag. We do it for every meal; over there they barely do it at all. But surely not wasting food should be encouraged, no?
Anyway, if you’re a heavier American, here are five good reasons why you should lose those extra pounds:
1. Your knees and elbows will thank you.
Obesity makes it much more likely that you’ll get osteoarthritis. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints.
In one study comparing the heaviest patients to the lightest, the chance of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee was more than six times more likely in the heavy group. For both knees, it was almost 18 times more likely!
Bottom Line: One important reason to lose weight is to reduce joint pain and improve your movement. These are things you can benefit from almost immediately.
2. You’ll get a good night’s sleep
More body fat means more potential for sleep apnea. This comes from a few combined factors. Fat in your airway narrows the space available. This makes your airway more prone to collapsing.
Fat in your upper body puts weight on your lungs and reduces the space available to them. You need more oxygen, but you can’t get it as well. Fat – a hormone-producing organ – changes your hormonal signals. This rewires your respiratory systems.
Bottom line: Another important reason to lose weight is so that you can sleep better. Not only that, but it helps regulate metabolism, hormone systems, and more.
3. You’ll actually start to taste your food
This may sound weird, but it seems that people who struggle with their weight don’t taste food as well. “Wait, what? People who often eat more food can’t taste as well?” Studies differ on exactly why. Some believe the excess body fat changes your tastes, while other findings show that your tastes change your appetite and cause weight gain.
Bottom line: Obese people have altered taste perceptions leading to eating more, and eating more of the wrong, foods. By losing weight, you’ll end up craving less high-sugar and high-fat food. You might even enjoy an extra veggie or two.
4. Your immune system will work properly again.
Why? Too much adipose (fat) tissue can release large amounts of immune chemicals. Over time, this chronic high exposure can interfere with the body’s ability to spot and stop actual outside infections.
Bottom line: Losing body fat can mean a healthier, more responsive, more robust immune system. And that means fewer colds, fewer infections, and a healthier daily life.
5. You’ll better survive surgery and childbirth.
People with a lot of body fat:
• are harder to intubate;
• have a higher risk of incisional hernia post-laparoscopy (i.e. popping open again);
• have a longer operation time;
• have a higher risk of catheter site infection; and
• have a higher rate of serious postoperative complications.
Bottom line: Every surgery patient wants a safe and speedy recovery. And every mother wants a safe birth and a thriving, bouncing baby. Having a healthy range of body fat makes those happy outcomes much more likely.
(N’DIGO’s health columnist Siddiqu “The Personal Trainer” Muhammad is a Certified Professional Trainer, motivational speaker, and author of How Are You Fat and Saved?! He is also co-creator of the house music workout class and exercise series titled You Would Think I Invented Sweat. For booking information or more fitness tips, visit www.chicagofit4life.com.)