Sounds horrid, doesn't it? But it is also true! We are, as a nation, fatter than everybody else. It was actually one of the first things that struck me coming back to the US from Europe this summer; people in the US are much, much heavier than they are in Europe. Not only that, we are much fatter than we were 30, 40, 50+ years ago.
Living in Europe will make you thin. I know this from personal experience having lived in Germany for 5 years. I am naturally 20 - 30 lbs lighter in Europe than I am here (unless I am dieting like a mad woman). I even dropped about 10 lbs on my last trip. Why is this? I think there are 3 major factors that work against us here. When you live in Europe, you walk. You walk to get places, and you walk for the sake of it. Also, the bicycle is actually considered a mode of transportation and is not just for children and men in black shorts and helmuts. I know of a grandmother who rode her bike to the store, the next village, etc until she was 85.
The second and third reasons are matters of quantity and quality of food. The first meal I had in Germany seemed tiny when it arrived at the table! Our portion size here is about 2x what you get there, and what you get there is more than enough to fill you up.
Which leaves me with quality of food. For that, I would like to point out a column that I found in a Chicago newspaper from August 31, 1951. (I posted it here, if you would like to take a look.) The column is a food column featuring a weekly recipe. In this issue, mothers have written and phoned in asking what new and exciting things they could give their kids for lunch. Here are a few examples of what was suggested: Sandwiches filled with: Cottage cheese with chopped pimiento, Cottage cheese with green pepper, and even Cottage cheese with anchovy paste.
There is not a kid alive in the US that would eat that today. Today's kids want and get "Lunchables" (which in my opinion are not food at all), chips, McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, and the list goes on and on.
Cottage cheese sandwiches may sound a bit odd to us today, but they are simple and nutritious and they are made out of real food. The kids back then would probably wolf them down as fast as they could so they could run (using their own 2 legs) outside and play. I was lucky enough to have a childhood like that, and somehow, I think that is how they should be.