London Observations

November 28, 2007 · 4 comments

I lived in South Africa for a year when I was ten.  On the way home we first stopped in Australia for a month and I’ll never forget the feeling I got seeing those big American cars driving around Melbourne after a year of not seeing them in South Africa.

I felt a little of the same feelings arriving in London yesterday.

In the six days I spent in Paris I saw a total of two people who were morbidly obese.  Now I am morbidly obese, so I am a good judge.  It isn’t like I was looking, but I was if you know what I mean.  And I simply didn’t see fat people.  And of course there is nothing saying the fat people I saw were even French.

I went to London on the Eurostar line to the new St. Pancras station, and then took the Tube from there.  I couldn’t help but notice that on my first car on the Victoria Line I saw three people who were fatter than me.  I don’t know that I normally would have noticed but after spending a week just not seeing it, it was immediately obvious to me.  And then of course I started looking some more and the more I looked the more I saw.

In Paris I saw two McDonald’s, a Starbucks and a Quickie Burger in 6 days of walking around the city.  When I got to my destination in London the first 4 restaurants I saw were a Pizza Hut, a Subway, a McDonald’s and a KFC. 

Coincidence?  I think not.

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{ 4 comments }

GroovyBabe November 29, 2007 at 6:40 am

Welcome to London!

I think we do have a much bigger obesity problem than Paris/France. Here France is seen to be a very healthy culture, with books published on how to eat the french way etc… I am not sure why when they are known to have a love of cheese, wine and bread lol. I guess it is in the attitude to how much they eat rather than what they consume.

How did you think London fairs compared to the United States? I find the States to have a much bigger problem than the UK that is why I was quite shocked it was so noticable to you here. We do have a problem here I guess it is how obese people get. In the UK to get to what I was at my highest, 266lbs, was considered EXTREMELY obese, a very dire situation, but there seems to be an abundance of americans weighing in at 300-400lbs. There are people that weight here but I dont think it is quite so many. It is heading down the american route though and give it 5 years we will have caught up.

I think you have a valid point about the fast food culture in London. I think London is a micro example though. London culture is not representative of english or even uk culture. London is a very busy, career driven city where people are always two hours late to be at their next location. Fast food is a part of the non-stop culture London finds itself in. Go out into the suburbs and it is not like this and you would have to go to a high street to find a fast food outlet. For example, in our city centre here we have 1 million pop but I cant find a KFC in my mind (I dont use them anyway since I read about someone biting into a cyst when I was 16!) but we have a mcdonalds and pizza hut… and a burger king too. I actually think the lack of exercise in british culture is a bigger problem than fast food culture.

Also, Paris has a cafe culture, which means people will be healthier. And everyone walks everywhere.

john - from fat to fit November 29, 2007 at 7:45 am

First I should say that I recognize you can’t condemn an entire country by a very small sliver, but I felt “safer” in doing so knowing the obesity in Great Britain has been a topic of discussion in the press.

There is no question in my mind though that it is nowhere near where we are in the States.

Even though I implied it in my post, I don’t know if fast food is the entire problem. I have already enjoyed some lovely meat pies and sausage rolls that would get me pretty heavy if I ate them every day!

Another interesting thing I notices was when i was watching telly last night, there were commercials on with fat people. I didn’t watch much TV in Paris but when I did I don’t recal seeing commercials featuring clearly overweight people like I have seen here.

Again, not enough data points, just observations of what I think I am seeing. Will be interesting to see if I quickly come to any such observations in Munich.

But I imagine I will be equally as shocked this weekend when I get home, since I know obesity is a much bigger problem in my home country.

Dona November 29, 2007 at 10:16 am

John – Your observations mirror ours when we traveled to Austria and Germany a few years ago. Seems like the heavy people we saw all turned out to be from the States! Well, the white sneakers gave them away too …. we are greatly enjoying your comments and observations and want to thank you for making time to blog! Dona

Paddy Wallbouncer February 17, 2008 at 12:09 pm

London and Paris are great places to get fit if you use publis transportation. That said, I was at my highest weight while living in London. I miss it how being back in the States. Americans (myself included 3rd generation) are always on themselves about our obesity however I read somewhere that as a nation, Germany holds the title for per capita obesity. Good luck with your blog.

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