Friday, June 1, 2007

What the World Eats

Fascinating issue of Time magazine is out, focusing on The Science of Appetite and the way we eat. There are several parts to the special report.

"The Science of Appetite" (link above) talks about how we're hardwired to overeat, often the wrong things, and how complex is the whole subject of appetite and weight. It's quite even-handed and doesn't begin spewing the low-fat mantra.

"How to Curb Your Appetite" offers no surprises: eat fiber, eat regular meals, brush your teeth when you're hungry. Nothing new. Although it was interesting in what it calls the "Big Three" of diets: Atkins, Weight Watchers and Ornish, and the downside of each. The downside of Atkins is that it's hard to stick to long-term; the downside of WW is that you get hungry (duh) because it espouses portion control based purely on calories; the downside of Ornish is that it's so strict it's impossible to stay on it.

But, for me, here's one really interesting part of this package of stories--"A New Diet Equation"--that talks about why and how different diets seem to work for different types of people. If you are someone who has developed metabolic resistance you likely gain weight in your midsection and have the classic "apple" shape. Apple shapes lose weight best--and keep it off longer--on low-glycemic diets. Period. End of sentence. Pear shapes can lose on either low-fat or low-carb in about equal measure, but tend to gain the weight back faster regardless of how they lost it. And the article talks about the difference between low-carb and low-glycemic diets and says that while both approaches result in greater weight loss than low-fat diets for "Apples," low-carb is faster, more effective, and also more difficult to do.

Another interesting part of the issue is What the World Eats, a photo-essay of a sample family in different countries, with their weekly food bill amount and their favorite foods. It was interesting to me because it really shows how homogeneous the "developed" world is. Samples:

  • Japan: $317.25 a week. Favorite foods: sashimi; fruit; cake; potato chips
  • Italy: $260.11 a week. Favorite foods: fish; pasta with ragu; hot dogs; frozen fish sticks
  • Kuwait: $221.45 a week. Favorite food: chicken biryani with basmati rice
  • USA: $341.98 a week. Favorite foods: spaghetti; potatoes; sesame chicken
  • Mexico: $189.09 a week. Favorites: pizza; crab; pasta; chicken
  • England: $253.15 a week. Favorites: avocado; mayonnaise sandwich; prawn cocktail; chocolate fudge cake with cream
  • Germany: $500.07 a week. Favorites: Fried potatoes with onions, bacon and herring; fried noodles with eggs and cheese; pizza; vanilla pudding

Remind me to blog sometime about mayonnaise sandwiches. I'm astounded they appeared in England.

There are also articles on "The Biggest Loser" show, a funny first-person by a reporter who undergoes a two-day "master cleanse" fast and lives to write about it--albeit very grumpily, and a "How the World Eats" article to accompany the photo-essay.

A really fascinating issue--check it out.

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